Young People's Poet Laureate Monthly Book Picks

Each month, the Young People’s Poet Laureate recommends a book of poetry for children. Selections include classics of children’s literature, adult collections that are well-suited to children, as well as newly published books.

Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse

Kenn Nesbitt’s May 2015 Book Pick

Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse

by Leslie Bulion

Peachtree Publishers March 2015

Leslie Bulion loves to write slightly disgusting poems about science, and she does so masterfully. In Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse, she has deftly crafted twenty poems about various parts of the human body, from teeth, tongue, and eyelids, to numerous internal organs. Taking many a cue from Shakespeare, she plays on everything from MacBeth (“Grumble, grumble, roil and rumble / Acid burn and slurry tumble”) to Romeo and Juliet (“Wherefor art thou, Alveoli?”) with gloriously nasty vocabulary and a plethora of poetic forms from sonnets to double dactyls.

In addition, these fun, icky, educational poems about our body parts are each complimented with paragraph of science fact to elucidate the function of that particular part of the anatomy. The playful illustrations by Mike Lowery are a collage of quirky pen-and-ink people and machines, along with magnified photographs of the actual body parts and other miscellaneous bits, making them fun to explore and study.

Perhaps best of all, the book concludes with a glossary of the anatomy vocabulary used throughout the book; a cartoon map of the parts of the human body; a collection of “Poetry Notes” describing the book’s poetic forms, techniques, and inspirations; and links to websites where kids can investigate further.

Whether their interest is anatomical science, poetry, Shakespeare, or just plain-old disgusting fun, Random Body Parts is well-worth picking up, and certain to entertain kids as it educates them about what’s in and on their bodies.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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