by Gomdori Co. and Hyun-dong Han
published by No Starch Press; $17.95 US
No Starch Press, the company behind the Manga Guide series covering various sciences, returns with a three-volume series exploring human anatomy. Survive! Inside the Human Body is translated from Korean (so no flipping needed) and published in color for ages 8 and up.
Geo is an energetic kid visiting Dr. Brain, eccentric inventor, and his high-strung assistant Kay. There’s also Phoebe, a strange, almost wild girl who’s always hungry. Dr. Brain has created a wonder ship, the S.S. Hippocrates, that when shrunk, can enter into a living being and travel inside its body. They’ve been experimenting with a rabbit, but when Geo and Phoebe visit the lab, a series of events cause Geo and Dr. Brain to be in the ship when it’s accidentally swallowed by Phoebe.
The adventures of Geo and Dr. Brain as they attempt to exit her body are full of over-the-top excitement — the ship is constantly in danger from things like stomach acid, white blood cells, and roller-coaster-like drops on their journey. Meanwhile, Kay has his hands full trying to keep Phoebe safe without telling her why. In book two, he chases her to a street festival. The whole time, he’s trying to rescue the explorers while keeping the inadvertent human experiment a secret from their research director.
You can tell this is aimed at kids younger than the readers of some of the other books because of the broad comedy and overreactions (particularly when dealing with poop in the Digestive System book). Still, there’s a lot of valuable and comprehensible information included. Each chapter is followed by two text pages that either expand on or reiterate the content of the previous comic-format pages.
It’s there that we learn more about nutrition, specific organs, bodily processes (such as peristalsis, breathing, bruising, and scab formation), blood types, bones, how we hear, how the brain works, and what can go wrong (like indigestion or brain damage). Phoebe just can’t catch a break, since she has both intestinal parasites (the most memorable and gross section in the series; you will definitely wash your hands more often after reading it) and an unexpected internal growth.
This series is a great way to learn more about how our bodies work in entertaining fashion. It’s a different, unique way to see our organs and how they all fit together to keep us going. (The publisher provided review copies.)