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how-your-body-worksJudy Hindley, illustrated by Colin King

Usborne Publishing, £7.99

To celebrate 40 years of children's publishing, Usborne is releasing 40 of its most loved books, including this colourful and amusing introduction to biology that is remembered fondly by many adults.

The book explains how various body parts work by illustrating them as whacky manmade inventions, with Colin King's familiar little cartoon people operating the madcap machinery. The circulatory system, for example, is a network of canals full of men in boats exchanging gas tanks, while the lungs are a huge pair of spongy bellows with people working various pulleys to inhale and exhale. Simple diagrams and experiments allow readers to find out things about their body with little to no equipment – "rub your thumb up the blue line on your wrist to watch your blood move" is a good example.

Critics will inevitably dismiss the educational value and scientific accuracy of How Your Body Works – the biology is indeed crude and its metaphors can be slightly dubious. Yet to teach very young children the basics about their body and show them how interesting physiology can be, I've not seen anything like it. Nearly 20 years after I put the original in my loft, and having studied biology at university, I still think of my brain as a little call centre with people barking orders down the phone to my arms and legs.

Tom Ireland MSB

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