You Just Can’t Help It! Your Guide to the Wild and Wacky World of Human Behavior by Jeff Szpirglas and illustrated by Josh Holinaty is a zany science book that delves into human senses, emotion, communication and interactions with others in a lighthearted way that is sure to appeal to young readers. It was nominated for a 2011 Cybils award in the MG/YA nonfiction category.
Jeff Szpirglas is a grade school teacher, so you can bet he has personally encountered some “wild and wacky” actions. He explains in a friendly introduction that he got his ideas of studying human behavior when he read The Naked Ape by animal behaviorist Desmond Morris as a kid. He realized he hadn’t seen a book about human behavior like that for children, so he started doing some research. The result is a book just might inspire future scientists.
Written in an easy and fresh conversational style, the layout consists of two-page spreads of each topic, with plenty of sidebars. The illustrations are modern-looking combos of cartoons/drawings and photographs of kids.
Don’t be fooled by the relaxed look, however. The content is full of solid research and suggestions for experiments. Did you know that people speaking different languages use different disfluencies, or filler words like “uh” and “er”? Or that a mom finds her own baby’s smelly diaper less revolting than that of an unfamiliar baby? (Now, that explains how we mothers make it through our children’s early years!)
It is too bad the publishers found room to advertize Jeff’s other books, but not to include any source notes or places to find more information. From the long list of acknowledgements to specialists, the source notes would have been interesting and useful.
You Just Can’t Help It! is a serious look at human behavior in an easy-to-read package. It will definitely appeal to middle grade readers who want to know more about themselves and their classmates.
Reading level: Ages 9 and up
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Maple Tree Press (March 1, 2011)
A .pdf copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
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