I’ll give Seok-Young Song and illustrator Hyun-Dong Han credit for choosing the first book in the Survive Inside The Human Body manga trilogy to be the one that covers the digestive system. What kid (of suitable age) isn’t going to enjoy a book that tackles so many of what are typically considered the “gross” subjects — stomach acid, intestines, flatulence, eructation (look it up), and yes… poop. Nothing is left to the imagination — you’ve got excellent coverage of sphincters, hook worms, and feces… everything a kid (or adult) would want to know about the digestive system.
I’m a big fan of the various manga series put out by No Starch Press that teach physics, statistics, and other topics… and now they’ve found a winner in the three-part Survive series that follows the actions of four main characters — Dr. Brain, who has invented a machine that can shrink its occupants down for insertion into a living organism; his easily-agitated assistant, Kay; the hero of the stories, Geo; and the clueless test subject, Phoebe, who has Dr. Brain and Geo moving around inside her through all three books.
The three books are in full-color, averaging about 175 pages each in length. Chapters are divided up with two-page spreads of summary discussions of a chapter’s topics that can be read quickly, allowing readers to continue on with Geo and Dr. Brain’s journey through Phoebe.
The sheer volume of information crammed into these books is amazing. For example, one of the chapters in Volume 1, The Digestive System, has Dr. Brain narrating to Geo what’s going on as they enter the stomach, just after Phoebe has eaten a snack. The action taking place is exciting, and even as an adult reader the educational discussions from Dr. Brain don’t feel forced or contrived. Geo and Dr. Brain started by getting eaten, so the story progresses with an intro to the tongue, the uvula, the epiglotus, and down the esophagus (with a swing by the trachea). Along with the manga scenes are a number of cutaway views when needed of various body parts… it’s just really well done.
I’ve finished Volume 1 and Volume 2: The Circulatory System… and while I thought Volume 1 was incredible, I think Volume 2 may actually have taught me much more… it’s hard to tell. I’ve started on Volume 3: The Nervous System, and I’m anxious to finish it to see how the story ends. (I don’t think it’s any big surprise to tell you that Dr. Brain and Geo are finding it difficult to get out of Phoebe!)
If you’ve got kids that are always curious and looking to learn new things, these are three gems that absolutely must be on your bookshelf. My oldest son (age 6) isn’t quite ready for these yet, but he is in for such a great surprise one day when I pull these down off the shelf for him.
The books are recommended for ages 8 and up, and the content has been verified by two medical doctors. The series sold over 20 million copies, and this is the first time it has been released in English.
Note: All three books will be available by the end of the month. I’d like to thank Tyler and No Starch Press for an early look at the trilogy.