Book Review: Me and My Amazing Body and Me on the Map

Me and My Amazing Body and Me on the Map are books by author Joan Sweeney and illustrator Annette Cable that we recently sought out and purchased.

Cover images of the books Me and my Amazing Body and Me on the Map.
We wanted an anatomy book because my daughter’s understanding of basic anatomy has been growing for several months. We wanted to explain maps because she recognizes by name the cities we regularly visit and it would be instructive to be able to explain spatial relationships using a map.

The books are narrated by an illustrated young girl who uses her own drawings to augment her teaching.

Me and My Amazing Body

On the first page of the body book, the girl has drawn a life-size outline of her body on a large piece of paper. She holds a handful of crayons, pens and paint brushes in anticipation of drawing her body parts.

The topics covered in the book include body part names, and the purpose of skin, bones, muscles, a brain, blood, a heart, lungs and a stomach. Reproductive organs are not addressed.

Here is how she describes the heart: "My blood can’t move through my body all by itself. It needs my heart—a group of strong muscles in my chest—to move it. My heart is like my own little engine. It pumps blood through my body all the time, even when I’m sleeping! If I put my hand on my chest, I can feel my heart beating."

Now for the obvious question: what is the appropriate age for this book? The answer is complex. The publisher states the book is for ages 4 to 8, but let’s separate reading level from comprehension. My daughter is 2.6-years-old. She understands much of the book.

Ask yourself: Am I reading to my child? Will my child understand the ideas being read to her? Do I explain new vocabulary words? At the end of a page, can I gauge my child’s comprehension and restate a page in simpler terms if needed?

If I can explain blood, then I can explain that the heart pushes blood around her body. Not coincidentally, my daughter is not alarmed at the sight of blood or even vomiting when she was sick last week. She had moments of obvious physical discomfort, but she barreled through a night of dry heaving every 20 minutes, I think, because she understood what was happening to her.

At 28-months-old, last October, we borrowed a different kid’s anatomy book from the library. Before we returned that book, my daughter knew her brain is inside her skull and her skull is under her skin and she could name a number of body parts. It was a grand time to learn because Halloween skeletons were a frequent sight in the community.

Today, at 31-months-old, Me and My Amazing Body helped her learn about her heart, blood and lungs.

Me on the Map

This book explains the concept of maps. The girl narrator is shown inside her bedroom saying, "This is me in my room." On the opposite page she has drawn an overhead color diagram of her room. She explains, "This is a map of my room. This is me on the map of my room."

I then leave the script to point out that the 3-D objects seen in the first image correspond to objects in the 2-D map. I quiz my daughter about the map, "Can you find the chair? Is that the cat? No silly, it’s the teddy bear on the bed. Hey, where do you think the window is on the map?"

The book progresses with a map of the house, the street, the town, the state (of Kansas), the United States and the world.

We supplement the book with a wooden puzzle of the United States—consisting of about 12 total grouped puzzle pieces. The puzzle is a bit over her head, but she seems to grasp that she lives in California and she knows several people living in other states.

The idea of maps has definitely been harder for her to understand than her anatomy. She can identify the Earth by name, but does she really understand she lives on the Earth? I don’t know.

In any case, this book will be a spot on learning tool sometime soon in my daughter’s development. I particularly like the imagery on the last pages of the book which depict the curved surface of the Earth with children standing on each continent. The girl says, "Just think, in rooms, in houses, on streets, in towns, in countries all over the world, everybody has their own special place on the map."


3 Responses to “Book Review: Me and My Amazing Body and Me on the Map”

  1. Christina Owen says:

    My daughter is very close in age to yours (2.5 in March). I think a lot of her board books are getting too young for her. She has a few of the Sandra Boynton books memorized, “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket” practically memorized, etc. I read somewhere that a child can understand a lot more than he or she can speak and I want to continue to increase her vocabulary and comprehension. Besides these which you just posted, do you have any suggestions for some other age appropriate books that involve more in depth stories/concepts but are still fun? Thanks!

    January 23rd, 2007 at 2:10 am

  2. STL Mom says:

    We have both of these books. We got them when my daughter was 3 or 4, and she enjoyed them for years. Thanks for the review, it reminds me to pull them out and see if my son can enjoy a book without trains, trucks, or dogs in it.

    January 23rd, 2007 at 5:22 pm

  3. lisa says:

    “Me on the Map” is a nice book for introducing the map concept. For what it’s worth, it’s one of the stories in the 1st grade reading text by Houghton Mifflin (one of the two major testbooks used in California public schools), so it’s read by a large portion of California 1st graders each year.

    I used it to teach maps to my 1st graders last year, and only about half of them really had a grasp on the concept at the beginning. By the end of the unit they were able to draw maps of our classroom and our school.

    If only all parents introduced books like this early on…

    January 23rd, 2007 at 10:05 pm

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