Friday, November 1, 2013

Celebrating Skeletons on Day of the Dead

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons
by Sara Levine; illus. by TS Spookytooth
32 pages; ages 5 - 10
Lerner Publishing, 2013

"Have you ever wondered what we would look like if we didn't have any bones? It wouldn't be pretty," begins Sara Levine. Bones are important, she says. They hold us up. They store fat and minerals. They (with help from our muscles) allow us to run and jump and climb trees.

Coupled with Spookytooth's clever illustrations, Levine shows what you might look like if your tail bones kept going, or your neck bones (think: giraffe). She shows what your skeleton would look like if you had Very Long Fingers, or no leg bones at all. And she even shows what you might look like with no bones at all... an Invertebrate!

What I like about this book: the X-ray view of animals with their bones all shown. I also like the beginning where Levine compares two vertebrate skeletons and labels major bones. I love the imaginative way she introduces her ideas: "what kind of animal would you be if we took away your leg bones but kept your arm bones?" On the following page there's an illustration, complete with the bones we know and every so often an * with some additional animals that would fit into that category.

I also like the back pages where Levine tells more about bones and vertebrates. She gives great hints for how to determine what class an animal belongs to, whether it's a bird or a fish or a mammal... And she includes a glossary and resources for curious naturalists who want to learn more.

Beyond the book: There are lots of sciency things one can do, like labeling bones on a skeleton or playing a matching game - and Lerner provides those free resources for the book at their website. But since today is the Day of the Dead, there are lots of other things one might want to do while learning about bones and skeletons.
Art: create a skeleton out of Q-tips or glue different kinds of Pasta to a black sheet of construction paper.
Food: mix up some sugar candy mix and make candy skulls for Day of the Dead. Or bake some gingerbread men cookies and decorate like skeletons.
Games: use a small (clean) bone - something from a chicken or a small vertebra from another animal and play a game of "bone, bone, who's got the bone" (using rules of "who's got the button). OR have someone leave the room and hide a bone. When "it" returns, use clapping to indicate when he is close to the bone.

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday round-up. Check out the other science books and resources reviewed this week.
Today's review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copy provided by the publisher.


  1. Oh! This book looks fantastic! we're always finding bones around here. The Mom Person never lets me keep them, but she does. She needs this book. Thanks!

  2. Two books with similar themes. I love the science in the book and it's a great share for Celebrating the Dead, which I knew nothing about! Enjoyed your activities for kids.

  3. Sounds like a fascinating book, Sue! Thanks for suggesting it...I will be on the look-out for it at the library.:)

  4. What a very clever topic. I'll be sure to check it out.

  5. Just goes to show what happens when a kid lit author thinks outside the box. . . a fun story!