Human Body Theater
Human Body Theater is a whimsical exploration of our own anatomy. Maris Wicks (Primates, Yes, Let’s) makes an important (but sometimes dry) subject amusing and educational. As seen on the cover, her anthropomorphized body parts are adorable!
Eleven chapters cover the main systems of the body, including digestive, immune, skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, excretory, nervous, reproductive, hormones, and the five senses. The digestive chapter may be a favorite of younger readers, since it covers poop, burps, farting, and vomit, as well as healthy eating, the effects of stress, and how the system works when everything’s going right. The reproductive system is handled maturely and a little remotely, with no mention of sex, just the mechanics of what happens after a sperm meets an egg. The only “nudity” is one ghostly outline of a penis, layered over a diagram of the internal male organs.
Narrating organs (with friendly faces) alternate with cute but informative diagrams. Wicks has a terrific tone, sensible, friendly, and lively, not boring or tiresome. Beyond the construction of the body, there are also tips on keeping it healthy (including the importance of exercise, how broken bones heal, and how clots and bruises form) and other fun facts.
I appreciated the way Wicks even talked about what we don’t know, such as why we yawn or why our joints crack. And I learned about what it means to be allergic and what asthma is. The senses chapter has a little bit on sign language and why people wear glasses. There’s also a glossary of key terms at the end.
This is a dense book, with plenty of information, and I wish it was even longer than its over 200 pages. I love non-fiction comics, because they illustrate how much the format can convey with the right combination of text and image. Human Body Theater would make a surprisingly good reference book, a really welcoming one.
There are sample pages online. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)