The Mütter Museum: A Junior Guide’s Tour of the World’s Coolest Medical Museum

Schiffer. Jul. 2020. 40p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780764359880.
Gr 3-8–A junior guide named A.J. and his ghostly companions take readers on a museum tour that is not for the faint of heart. The Mütter Museum, part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, has been a repository for medical oddities, specimens, wax models, and antique medical equipment since it was founded by Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter in 1863. After A.J. explains how to pronounce the umlauted u in the doctor’s last name, Mütter is the first ghost to appear on the pages of this whimsically illustrated tour. Dhody, the museum’s curator, shares exhibits that will appeal to readers who have an interest in the human body, and the stomach for gross details. There is the adipocere (corpse wax) that is the substance of the “Soap Lady,” the horn made out of the skin that grew from a Frenchwoman’s head in the 1800s, a megacolon that once contained “40 pounds of poo,” and more. As each specimen is introduced, its ghost climbs out of the display to join the tour group. One of the ghosts uses the megacolon as a balloon. The playful drawings lighten the tone and add to the appeal. Back matter includes further reading and photographs from the museum collection. Older readers could be motivated to learn more about the museum and its history.
VERDICT Just what the doctor ordered. This engaging picture book is an obvious choice for a book talk.

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