Citation: Bulion, L., & Lowery, M. (2015). Random body parts: Gross anatomy riddles in verse. Atlanta, GA: Published by Peachtree.
This book is full of opportunities for educational enrichment in a science class. It includes nineteen riddles written in verse about various body parts and anatomical concepts. Each poem riddle is accompanied by illustrations and photographs that relate to the metaphors in the poem and the body part itself as well as a brief scientific explanation of the subject of the poem.
Random Body Parts opens with a poem— “Riddle Me This” that explains the premise of the book. Each poem serves as a riddle for children to guess the body part it discusses. This concept will excite children about learning about science. The riddles themselves disguise the educational aspect of the book as a game to be played. With the popularity of joke and riddle books, this is an excellent tool to be used for education. Some riddles are more difficult than others, but each is well-written and used to illustrate some aspect of our anatomy. Some poems are even just gross enough to entice the most reluctant reader with humor and eccentricity.
The book, presented as a scrapbook with a variety of illustration techniques from hand drawings to photographs and cut paper additions, also includes a table of contents to easily find the poem one is searching for as well as poetic notes on the style of each poem included at the end of the book. This addition means this book can also be used across two subject areas—science and English for co-teaching. A science teacher can easily use a poem like “The River of Life,” for example, to teach about the circulatory system while an English teacher can use it to demonstrate metaphor and the haiku poetic style. Finally, there are more references provided on the last page for further investigation to learn about anatomy.
Spotlight Poem: “The River of Life”
“Three boats sail
Along the river of life—
A sticky situation.
A breath of wind
Where rivulets bend.
Hoists the red sails!
Many white sails gather.
Something wicked this way comes—
A breach in the river—
Long boats glide in, then stay,
Lining the shore.
With many tributaries
All shores are met.”
Some of the poem riddles in this book are more difficult than others, especially for children who aren’t as knowledgeable about anatomy. This one stumped me until I reached the section where it discusses the white sails. I feel like this one would stump many children, but the imagery is my favorite from this book. The use of a battle on the high seas is one that would resonate and excite children to learn about the circulatory system and help them see how powerful their bodies are.
Every line connects the subject to something more relatable to children. For example, the first stanza alone contains a common phrase— “a sticky situation” that will be familiar to children to introduce them to the idea of sticky platelets that line the blood vessels in their bodies. Before that, it refers to those vessels as “the river of life” enhancing the metaphor of the circulatory system as an ocean where these ships sail but also driving home the point that we would not live without it. This phrase can help open doors for teachers to explain how the circulatory system passes along much needed fuel to the body and removes waste as well as keeping us healthy by battling infection.
The extended metaphor throughout the poem of the three types of blood cells being referred to as different types of ships in the navy of the body to serve different purposes helps explain their function in a simple way that could easily be expanded upon by a teacher
Take 5 Activity:
- Read the poem aloud stressing the three types of boats.
- Give the students time to discuss the poem, its imagery and to solve the riddle.
- Read Parts by Tedd Arnold discussing the basic anatomy concepts in it.
- Re-read the poem as a class and discuss the types of blood cells, reading the explanation provided by the author.
- Suggest books such as Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body by Tish Rabe, The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body by Joanna Cole, More Parts by Tedd Arnold, and Little Explorers: My Amazing Body by Ruth Martin.