That’s Life: Looking for the Living Things All Around You; Mike Barfield, illustrated by Lauren Humphrey
That’s Life: Looking for the Living Things All Around You is the follow-up book from the same author-illustrator duo that produced The Element in the Room: Investigating the Atomic Ingredients That Make Up Your Home. After exploring the laws of physics and how just about everything in the universe is made from any of ninety-two elements, Mike Barfield and Lauren Humphrey now turn their attention to living things and encourage everybody to start noticing the living things that are all around them.
Life can be found everywhere. Inside and outside, above ground and below ground, on land and in oceans, hot, cold, dry and wet - wherever you are in the world and wherever you look you can be sure that you’ll find life there. You only need to look around your home to spot living things including animals, humans, plants, microbes and bacteria - although you might need a microscope to uncover some of the more minuscule things that are ‘living’ in plain sight. Join Sherlock Ohms and his two rodent companions, Ratley and Hattie, as they embark on a ‘brilliant biological quest’ to provide everyone with the knowledge and scientific know-how to find the living things that really are everywhere…
That’s Life is a brilliant scientific non-fiction book that carefully guides young readers through the complex world of living things. It is filled with scientific information, history lessons, fun facts and practical activities. It does a superb job of supporting and extending learning that children will experience within the classroom.
Sherlock Ohms starts by talking about the seven signs of life - this brought back my memory of school science and the loveable and memorable MRS. GREN. A possible explanation for life’s precise origins precedes a brilliant tree of life illustration that shows the seven kingdoms. This serves as the introduction to the main part of the book that goes on to explore each of these kingdoms in more detail.
Ohms starts small, very small in fact. Cells, “the building blocks of life” are put under the microscope as we get to learn all about Archea. These single-celled, superpower organisms can be found everywhere from the human body to salt lakes to acid mines. A very big fact about these very small organisms is that the Archaean is the smallest known living thing on Earth. From here, the kingdoms of Bacteria, Protozoa and Chromista are all briefly explored. Pleasingly, much of the book is then devoted to the kingdoms of Plants and Animals and these are the sections that will really appeal to children as Ohms uncovers how plants and animals are classified. Precious plants, super seeds, fabulous flowers, funky fungi, incredible insects, fin-tastic fish, brilliant birds and marvellous mammals are all explored in detail.
The engaging and accessible presentation of the book is very appealing and pages are filled with insightful text and colourful illustrations. I love the detailed comic strips that retell the stories of famous discoveries and theories. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Robert Hooke, Louis Pasteur, Carl Linnaeus, Georges Cuvier Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel and David Attenborough are just of the important theorists, scientists, chemists, botanists and taxonomists that feature.
Readers are regularly encouraged to get actively involved and to look for signs of life with quick reference keys indicating where signs of life can be found. The experiments that feature will be a big hit with children as instructions are given for trying out several things including observing daisies, growing yoghurt, pressing flowers, having fun with fungi and witnessing photosynthesis.
A must read for all young scientists, biologists and naturalists with an interest in the world around them and will have children proudly pointing things out and excitedly proclaiming, “That’s Life!”
Recommended for 9+.