December 28, 2008

Dr. Frankenstein's Human Body Book

Here’s a fabulous book that, despite its title, has a rather tenuous if amusing connection to our monster-making experimenter. Dr. Frankenstein’s Human Body Book, from DK Publishing, is actually an illustrated anatomy primer wherein, merely for introductory purposes, young readers are invited to assist Dr. Frankenstein in assembling a human body.

The Frankenstein references are strictly limited to short diary entries, written with gentle humor, to accompany and encourage the reader/assistant. Connecting limbs to the skeleton, the diary reads, “Up to the elbows with work. Assistant managed to put the humerus in the right place without hitting the funny bone”. Examining the central nervous system, the diary notes, “Assistant and I used our gray matter to install a brain…”. Otherwise, the text, by Richard Walker, a science writer and a veteran of anatomy books, is perfectly serious.

The information is doled out in easy-reading, bite-size pieces that support the generous iconography. Illustrations allow us to peer inside a bone or an eyeball, and a skull is exploded into its component parts. Medical photographs reveal microscopic structures and inner workings.

The book is beautifully designed and the production values are off the scale. This is one of those indestructible books with a vinyl cover and rigid, extra-thick board pages. Every spread opens flat. The cover features a lenticular 3-D image that peers inside a human heart.

I couldn’t help noting that for all its completeness, meticulously stepping through every layer of the human body, the naughty bits have been left out, probably to spare parents who will explore the book with very young children. It’ll be up to the grownups to fill in the details when and as they see fit.

Dr. Frankenstein’s Human Body Book, subtitled The monstrous truth about how your body works, is an unusual but welcome addition to the Frankenstein Library. Aimed at very young readers, it will delight the curious of all ages.

Here’s the Publisher’s page, with a glimpse at inside pages. You can order the book directly from them, or through the Frankenstore.

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