written by Jennifer Swanson
2015 (National Geographic Kids)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
Your brain is the most complex supercomputer on the planet. It’s a compass, a storehouse, and a time machine all rolled into one.
My youngest daughter enjoys the television show Brain Games on the National Geographic Channel. It’s a reality show that uses interactive games to teach you about the brain. With the success of this show and Pixar’s Inside Out, a lot of people have the brain on the brain. But do you know how the brain works? I have some basic knowledge, but not much beyond that. With this kids companion to Brain Games, I can be an expert. It is a thorough treatment of all the connections and functions that our brains have. Understanding the science of the brain is a challenging matter, but author Jennifer Swanson makes it easier by introducing sections with games that are what you would see on the television show. This gives you a connection for the hard science that follows in the section titled What Exactly is Happening. Pretty neat trick. You also get fun facts that illuminate the information presented. For example, in the section on neural pathways and how the brain makes our senses work, you learn in a sidebar how king snakes can hear sounds by feeling vibrations in their jaws. I also understand my two dogs much better now that I have read the sidebar about the importance of smell to my canine critters. Another engaging section of the book are the brain breaks. Appearing at the end of each chapter, these are mostly visual cranium contests that students will enjoy. I would put individual brain breaks on a SmartBoard and have the class try and solve them. Two more challenges are also included with the back matter.
When a student talks about their brain hurting, you can now ask “Left side or right side?” “Your hypothalamus or your frontal cortex?” If you want to be a true brainiac, pick up a copy of Brain Games.