This week’s word is ‘Bacteria’
This week I’m looking at DK’s The Bacteria Book, by the improbably but appropriately named, Steve Mould. Mould, for those who are unaware, has a popular science YouTube channel, that is well worth a look if you have the chance. This book is all about bacteria and other microorganisms. It’s aimed at children, aged around 8 upwards. It hopes to inspire youngsters about science, whilst appealing to their love of the gross and downright disgusting. The book’s tagline is “Gross germs, vile viruses and funky fungi.” As most GeekDads are under the impression they are funky fun guys, The Bacteria Book is doubly appropriate to review here.
What is The Bacteria Book?
With its bright, bilious green cover, and bumpy bacteria cartoon drawings, The Bacteria Book immediately draws its readers in. It demands to be opened, to discover what horrors lay inside. This is most definitely book that will fascinate children whilst leaving their parents feeling queasy.
The book is broken down into four main sections with some additional microbe facts towards the end.
The four sections are:
- What is a microbe? The basics. How big are microbes? How many species of microbe are there? What types of microbe exist? How do we see them if they’re so small?
- What are bacteria? The anatomy of a bacteria, types and shapes of bacteria, and how do they replicate? Where do we find bacteria? (Spoiler Alert! Everywhere.) A page on why your farts smell – what’s not to like? Bad bacteria, complete with a child-engaging picture of a man sitting on the toilet. For some reason, my boys love this page. How do we defend ourselves against the microbe onslaught? The story of antibiotics. Superpowered bacteria and how do we use bacteria to do good?
- What is a virus? The difference between a bacteria and a virus. The anatomy of a virus and how they reproduce. What happens when we catch a cold, and how it spreads. How we fight a virus with white blood cells. Deadly tricks viruses use to spread themselves, and the rather terrifying concept of a “zoonotic” disease.
- What are fungi? Possibly the most visually spectacular section of the book, with some great pictures of moldy bread and rotten tomatoes. The life cycle of a fungus, how it spreads. Useful fungi; fermentation and yeast. Zombie ants! (Reason alone to buy the book.)
- The final pages ask, What are algae, protozoa, and archaea? There’s a double page spread on micro animals and then a timeline of microbiology, starting with Kircher observing microbes and realizing they were the cause of diseases, then, via Jenner and Pasteur, up to the eradication of Smallpox and the discovery of the Mimivirus. Finally, there is a glossary and index. The book has 72 pages in all.
Why read The Bacteria Book?
Like all DK books, The Bacteria Book is an expert blend of visual and written information. There are lots of great attention-grabbing photos, with short blocks of text, and sidebars filled with arresting facts. There’s so much great stuff in the book. Not just the basics but fascinating pages on bioluminescent bacteria that make squid glow or the astounding fact that there are more bacteria on your teeth than there are people in the world. I had no idea that to be considered a fungus, a microbe’s cell walls must be made of chitin. Fungus and crabs are (sort of) made of the same stuff. That blew my tiny brain, never mind the kids’.
As I said in my introduction, this book will excite your kids because it will revolt you. They see horrible fridge fungus and are energized by it, you’ll be trying to remember the last time you cleaned the ice box. The Bacteria Book will fascinate children of almost any age. Those that are too young to read it will still be drawn in by the pictures. Those a bit too old for this type of book will marvel at the gross wonders of the microscopic world.
All in all, The Bacteria Book does exactly what it sets out to do. It’s an engaging and informative look at the invisible world around us. Like all the best non-fiction books, it informs, entertains, and astounds. Highly recommended, particularly as it’s an absolute steal at £9.99 ($15.99).
You can pick a copy of The Bacteria Book here, in the US and here, in the UK.
If you enjoyed this post do check out my other Word Wednesday offerings.
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book to review.