The Book of Blood: From Legends and Leeches to Vampires and Veins

August 2012. 152p. 978-0-54731-584-3. 17.99.
“A  cockroach can live for weeks without its head due to the way blood clots in the neck . . . The icefish has clear blood that serves as “anti-freeze” that keeps ice crystals from building up in its body . . . The horseshoe crab’s blood is not only blue but kills just about every kind of bacteria it touches.”  These intriguing facts come from a chapter devoted to comparing human and animal blood, but the encyclopedic focus of this title also encompasses the anthropological importance of blood across ancient civilizations, a history of science and medicine that features our evolving understanding, a trenchant biological summary of the circulatory system, and an examination of real animals and legendary monsters that feed on blood.  The diffuse interdisciplinary scope may not have broad appeal, but its organization coupled with a book design that includes numerous illustrations and sidebars also recommends it as a reference work.  Bibliography and index appended. jonathan hunt
Gr 5-8–Blood, writes Newquist, “is one of the most fascinating and fabled substances in history.” In this compendium, readers will learn about the red fluid’s biological function as well as its historical and cultural significance. Several chapters cover its importance in ancient cultures and explain how our knowledge about its role in the body developed over time. Information about early medical practices such as bloodletting (including the use of leeches) will grab students’ interest, as will the sections on hematophagous (blood-drinking) animals and vampire legends. The chapters on the physiology of the circulatory system and the components of blood are more readable than those in many textbooks. The conversational tone and the faux blood-spattered pages, replete with sidebars, color photos, archival drawings, and medical illustrations, are sure to pull in readers. Unfortunately, there are no source notes to support blanket statements such as, “Everything you put in your body ends up in your blood,” and “Your blood is more responsible for keeping you alive than anything else in your body.” This book’s content is similar to that in Trudee Romanek’s Squirt: The Most Interesting Book You’ll Ever Read About Blood (Kids Can, 2006), although it covers some topics in greater depth and has more of a narrative format.–Jackie Partch,  Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
This encyclopedic title encompasses a comparison of human and nonhuman blood; blood's anthropological importance; scientific and medical history, including ongoing discoveries; summary of the circulatory system; and examination of blood-feeding animals and legendary monsters. The diffuse interdisciplinary scope may not have broad appeal, but its organization and numerous illustrations and sidebars recommend the volume as a reference work. Websites. Bib., ind.

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