A Garden in Your Belly: Meet the Microbes in Your Gut

Millbrook. Oct. 2020. 32p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781541578401.
Gr 2-5–The bacteria inside the human gut may not be the first thing that comes to mind as a topic for a children’s book, but D’yans has made the subject very approachable. The metaphors of a river and a garden are used to describe the intestines and stomach, allowing readers to visualize the microorganisms involved. The text explains how each person’s unique mix of microbiota works to fight germs, harvest energy, and even “influence your thoughts and feelings.” Children are advised to eat healthy foods rather than feed the weeds (the bad microbes). Watercolor illustrations depicting the helpful inhabitants of the “garden in your belly” show them floating like lotus flowers, leaping like frogs, paddling boats, and talking on telephones. The weeds are rendered in dark colors with jagged teeth. In some scenes, they belch out smoke that chokes the helpers. Back matter balances the whimsical illustrations by offering more detailed explanations of the concepts. There is also a glossary of terms and a page of “amazing gut facts.” This would be an excellent book to share with a class studying health and nutrition. It could also be suitable for a child who is experiencing gastrointestinal issues and wants to understand what is happening in their own “garden.”
VERDICT A good addition to collections looking to update their biology section.

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