Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review: All About Sleep

All About Sleep: From A to Zzzz by Elaine Scott. (Grades 4-7.)

You spend about a third of your life asleep, but what really happens to you while you're sleeping? Ancient physicians thought that you fall asleep because all the blood drains from your head or because heat sinks into the middle of your body. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries some people thought you fall asleep when too much cholesterol builds up in your body or because there's too little or too much blood in your head.

In this readable non-fiction book, Elaine Scott explores brain waves, neurotransmitters, circadian rhythms, and dreams (among many other things!). Although this book is filled with facts, it's not overwhelming because it's presented in a very accessible fashion.

Fun facts are scattered throughout the text. Did you know that Abraham Lincoln had a dream about a president being assassinated three days before he was killed? Or that Harriet Tubman had narcolepsy?

I give this book high marks for being interesting and readable, but lower marks for design*. John O'Brien provides cartoony illustrations, but big blocks of text make up much of the books. Spiffy it is not - you'll find no glossy photos or colorful sidebars here - but please don't let that deter you. Scott presents lots of information in an accessible way, making this a great book for pleasure reading. An index and bibliography make it suitable for research, as well.

Don't miss Elaine Scott's website. Earlier this year I reviewed Scott's Mars and the Search for Life and When is a Planet Not a Planet? and you'll certainly want to check out some of her other fascinating books! She's quickly becoming one of my favorite non-fiction writers!

Don't fall asleep on this Non-Fiction Monday. Check out the roundup at Simply Science (that oughta keep you awake!).

*I might be a little biased here because, to be completely honest, John O'Brien really doesn't do it for me.