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To finish our week on body structure and function, we have a new picture book:  What Do They Do With All That Poo? by Jane Kurtz and illustrated by Allison Black. Check out the book giveaway below the review.


From around the time they start potty training, children become fascinated with bodily functions. They also often go through a bathroom humor phase. This new picture book (publishing next week) discusses animal "poo" with just the right mix of serious and fun that it is sure to engage readers of this age.

For the text, Jane Kurtz uses a two level approach. Across the top of the pages is a bouncy rhyme, which is fantastic for educators who want to read the book aloud to young children. Across the bottom of the pages are denser sentences geared for older readers who want to find out more information.

Using twelve animal examples,  -- from bats to rhinos --  Kurtz explains how the variation in their poo results from differences in the animals' nutrition and digestion. For example, panda poo is mostly undigested bamboo, so it is green and not smelly at all. On the other hand, penguin poo is fishy.

Insect poo is called "frass."

The author also includes information about how zoos handle the disposal of animal wastes, including composting. There's even a surprise or two at the end.

Allison Black's illustrations are cheerful and inventive. She says her dad was a veterinarian and he used to store poo samples in the fridge, so she could call on her experiences for the book.

What Do They Do With All That Poo? is a perfect book to accompany a trip to the zoo, farm, or wildlife habitat. Check out a copy today!

Age Range: 3 - 8 years
Publisher: Beach Lane Books (June 19, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1481479865
ISBN-13: 978-1481479868

More Stuff:

For a discussion of the digestive process in humans, see yesterday's post

Check out the square (actually cubic) wombat poo mentioned in the book in this video.



Want to enter the giveaway for the book? Simply login to the Rafflecopter box below -- making sure you leave a valid e-mail address -- by 12:00 a.m. EST June 18, 2018. Rafflecopter will randomly pick one lucky winner who will receive a copy of What Do They Do With All That Poo?, courtesy of Beach Lane Books  (U.S. addresses only, please). The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please leave a comment if you have any difficulties.

Author information:  Jane Kurtz was born in Portland, Oregon (where she now lives), but when she was two years old, her parents decided to move to Ethiopia, where she spent most of her childhood. Jane speaks about being an author at schools and conferences—in all but eleven of the United States, so far, and such places as Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, France, Germany, Romania, Russia, Oman, England, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Japan. She helped start Ethiopia Reads (, a nonprofit that is planting libraries for children and printing some of the first easy-reader books in local languages in Ethiopia. She is the author of many books for children, including Water Hole Waiting and River Friendly River Wild, winner of the SCBWI Golden Kite award for picture book text. To learn more, visit her website:
Twitter: @janekurtz


Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher's representative for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

Next up for our look at human bodies and bodily functions inspired by The Human Body book post, let's explore the digestive system.

We all need to eat, both to supply energy, and to support growth and maintenance of our bodies. For example, we should eat foods that contain calcium to keep our bones strong. But how does the meal we eat become the building blocks and fuel for our bodies?

The process is called digestion.

Digestive System

You probably already know that certain organs are involved in digestion, like the mouth and stomach. Human biologists group related organs together into what are called "organ systems." Many of the organs involved in digestion are shown in this illustration.

(Public domain illustration from Wikimedia)

The process all starts with your body sending and receiving signals that you are hungry. Once you begin to eat something, say the piece of pizza above, the food passes into your mouth. The teeth break down the bigger pieces into bits while you chew and at the same time glands make saliva, which starts to change pizza chemically.

The tongue helps you swallow the food. As you swallow, the food passes down the esophagus into the stomach. The stomach is like a big bag that is filled with acids and enzymes that dissolve the food, making it into smaller and smaller units.

Once it has been processed to a certain point, the digested food moves into the small intestine (which starts at the duodenum in the illustration). The pancreas and liver, plus the gallbladder help produce the chemicals that regulate digestion. Inside the small intestine, food finishes changing into tiny enough molecules that they can be absorbed into the blood stream and be carried to the cells where they will be used. The walls of the small intestine are covered with special tiny fingers called "villi." The villi are really good at moving materials to where they need to go.

Anything that hasn't been digested becomes waste. The waste moves into the large intestine, which consists of the caecum, colon, and rectum. Any excess water is removed and final processing occurs with the help of bacteria. From there the waste exits the body when you go to the bathroom.

This classic video from Kids Health presents it in a slightly different way.

Where is this series going? Check tomorrow's post for the answer.



See Teach with Fergy for a way to demonstrate digestion using a plastic baggie and bread. A bit gross, but reinforces the different steps in the process in a memorable way.

For a picture book that gives a good introduction, try The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body

(Amazon Affiliate Link)


Yesterday we talked a bit about about the human skeleton. Now let's compare it to an insect skeleton.

Insect and other arthropods have their supporting structure on the outside of their bodies. The outside skeleton is called an "exoskeleton." It has the same function as the vertebrate internal skeleton, that is protecting the internal organs and allowing for movement. The biggest difference is that the exoskeleton doesn't grow and must be shed or molted for an insect to increase in size.

When you first look at an insect anatomy diagram, it might seem like the vocabulary is unusual.

It turns out, however many of the parts are named the same as in humans.

For example, the name of the segments of the insect's legs correspond to the names of the bones in the human legs. The big bone in the thigh is the femur, the bone below the knee is the tibia, and the bones in the feet are called the tarsals and metatarsals.

A doctor of thoracic medicine specializes in the chest, particularly the lungs. A doctor might ask if you have a pain in the lower left abdomen.

The human jawbone is called a mandible, and insects with biting mouthparts have mandibles.

Insects have a membrane that helps them detect sounds called a tympanum. Humans have a tympanic membrane in the ear that helps with hearing.

Learning the vocabulary is easier once you see the similarities.

Can you find your femur? Can you see the large, jumping femur of this grasshopper?