Sometimes, aliens need a little helping hand. Well, Oort and Quog certainly do when they crash land on their way to a friend’s birthday party.
Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You! is an information picture book aimed at readers ages 4+. It’s a fabulous mix of fun, fact and fiction with bright, engaging illustrations throughout.
The storyline is simple: Oort and Quog need to fix their spaceship in time to make it to Kevin’s birthday party. Only Oort is a gas cloud and Quog is a blob. How are they going to retrieve the spaceship’s engine, which has fallen off during their landing, push it down a hill and lift it back into place, when they can’t even open the door to exit their spaceship?
The narrator has a genius solution: the reader!
Turn the page to help Quog and Oort open the spaceship door.
It works! One page turn and the aliens are no longer trapped inside. Oort acknowledges the reader’s role in helping them and so begins a delightful interactive partnership. Quog decides to grow her own hands, but they are floppy and she cannot push with them. The reader subsequently demonstrates their ability to push, lift and feel—by using their hands and the book. When Oort’s special vision reveals the bones, muscles and nerves* that are enabling these activities, Quog shapes her hands accordingly, repairs the spaceship and the aliens blast off into space.
High five to author Idan Ben-Barak and illustrator Julian Frost for a hugely appealing book that not only entertains and empowers young readers but also provides access to some awesome information about hands and how they work.
Idan Ben-Barak is an award-winning children’s author and science writer with degrees in medical science, microbiology and the history and philosophy of science. Julian Frost is an internationally acclaimed illustrator, designer, director and animator. They previously collaborated on the award-winning title Do Not Lick This Book! Both are based in Melbourne.
*Readers who want to know about tendons and ligaments—more handy information!—will also enjoy the section on “How to grow hands” in the end pages.
Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You! by Idan Ben-Barak and Julian Frost
Allen & Unwin, 2019 (Australia)/Roaring Brook, 2020 (US)
ISBN: 978 1 76063 163 5
Reviews: Kirkus, Books + Publishing, Booktrust UK, Kids’ Book Review
Awards: Winner Best Designed Children’s Illustrated Book, Australian Book Design Awards 2020; Longlisted Eve Pownall Award for Information Books, CBCA Awards 2020
Download the teacher’s notes from the Australian publisher’s website here.
Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT and IBBY Australia. When she is not writing, she is reading, and chasing after her two young children. She tweets regularly @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com