The inside story

11th November 1994 at 00:00
Eureka series Me and My Body 1 898304 41 6. Inside My House. 1 898304 31 9. By Stephen Webster. Illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura Riverswift Pounds 7.99 each.

This new series for key stages 1 and 2 is inspired by the exhibitions at Eureka!, the hands-on museum in Halifax. Me and My Body features a robot called Scoot who wants to find out everything it can about the children reading the book. Scoot isn't just interested in what the readers look like, but also their likes and dislikes, why and how they grow, their emotions, needs and feelings.

The illustrations by Satoshi Kitamura are the most striking feature of the book. They are lively and charming but there just aren't enough of them. Most of the illustration is photographic - clear and straightforward but nothing new. Having the book totally illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura would have lifted it way out of the ordinary. The text is also clear and straightforward.

It doesn't patronise and this book would be useful to any class learning more about themselves and how they work both mentally and physically.

Inside My House is aimed at the same readership. Where Me and My Body has Scoot, Inside My House has Tweet the Bird who hops through the book looking at what goes on and passing pious comments: "You all need a few rules to help things run smoothly," twitters the merry bird.

Tweet is undoubtedly a very sensible bird, but he could do with lightening up now and again.

Inside My House concentrates on what goes on inside homes and why caring for homes and the people living in them is important. But it cries out even louder than its companion for more Kitamura drawings, because sometimes the photographs are downright incomprehensible. Page 13 has a series of three smallish photographs of a working exhibit at the Eureka Museum.

Each photograph, of Archimedes in his bath, looks staggeringly similar to the others. They disprove the claim that one picture is worth a thousand words. How a six-year-old is supposed to comprehend Archimedes Principle from this I do not know.

Both books are full of ideas for class activities and individual projects. They are clear and jolly and would be fun to have in class. If they had more of the Satoshi Kitamura magic and were a bit cheaper they would be snapped up by children's pocket money shopping as well.

Mary Gribbin is the author of Time Space (Dorling Kindersley).

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