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Samira and the Skeletons
Written and illustrated by Camilla Kuhn
Eerdmans, 2016. 34 pp.
One of USBBY’s Outstanding International Books for 2017, this humorous picture book chronicles young Samira’s response to learning about the skeletal system. At first incredulous and then disgusted by the skeletons that live within everyone’s body, Samira cannot help but see (and feel) skeletons everywhere. Explaining her new learning to her mother, Samira asks her mother to get rid of the skeleton within Samira. But before her mother can do so, Samira’s skeleton dashes away with Samira in it. Eventually, Samira decides having a body full of bones (even with the teeth playing “peekaboo”) is not a terrible thing. But then the class moves on to muscles!
This funny, fabulous book from Norway aptly describes a young person’s initial response to learning about the “yucky” elements that make up her body. Using pencil drawings that are digitally colored and enhanced, readers will delight in the comical sketches that allow other characters to be seen through Samira’s eyes. The illustrations support the written text by showing the written word in action. A small, square shape allows young readers to hold the book while engaged in fun illustrations and an engaging storyline. What is especially wonderful about the illustrations is the diversity of Samira and her school mates, strongly suggesting that even though we may have differences on the outside, human beings are the same on the inside.
Samira and the Skeletons is a great read-aloud for teachers to use while introducing the human body to students in grades 1-4, or as a wonderful example of creative nonfiction for middle grade classrooms. This book would make a nice addition to other books on the human body including Dem Bones by Bob Barner (2016); A Journey through the Human Body by Steve Parker (2015); and Bones by Seymour Simon (2000). This book could also be part of a humorous text set on skeletons that includes Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler (2005) or Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnefson (2013).
Camilla Kuhn grew up in Norway, went to art and design school in London, and currently lives in Oslo with her husband and numerous and diverse pets, including guinea pigs and seven walking stick insects. In her spare time she breeds rats, and is known to take a couple on tour with her. This is her first book in English.
Meet Camilla Kuhn: http://www.camillakuhn.no
Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH