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6 October 2020 GROW: SECRETS OF OUR DNA by Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton, ill., Candlewick, September 2020, 40p., ISBN: 978-1-5362-1272-3


“Everything grows and grows

Sisters do

Brothers too

Everything grows.

Food on the farm, fish in the sea

Birds in the air, leaves on the tree

Everything grows, anyone knows

That’s how it goes

Yes, everything grows and grows”

-- Raffi (1987)


“Growing isn’t only about time and size. It’s also about change.

You grew from a tiny blob, smaller than a dot.

But your body didn’t just get bigger. It changed shape. It became more complicated and capable of doing more things. 

Without even thinking about it or telling your body what to do, you will go on growing and changing as you become an adult. From the time you were the size of a dot, your body has been following a set of instructions.

These instructions aren’t written in words but in a code. The code is made from deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA.”


I am awestruck by the age-appropriate manner in which author Nicola Davies explains how everything that grows is guided by instructions that are part of nearly every cell in our bodies. 


Except for identical twins, everyone has a unique set of instructions. Nevertheless, our unique DNA codes are extremely similar to those of our family members and quite similar to those of every other human on the planet. They are also somewhat similar to the codes inside chimpanzees, our closest animal relatives, and progressively less similar to dog codes, fish codes, and plant codes. But we share a bit of our codes with every living thing on Earth.


Emily Sutton’s vivid, child-friendly watercolor illustrations depict a joyful variety of people, animals, and plants. They also show human growth progressions. There are some fascinating sidebar illustrations. One series illuminates some unusual growth extremes, like bristlecone pines that take 40 years to grow to the size of a pencil, but can live 400 years. And turquoise killifish hatch in puddles and lay eggs just fifteen days after hatching, living an entire lifetime before their puddles dry up. 


Together, the author and illustrator do a stellar job of showing and explaining about the spiral ladder-like strands of DNA, and how “the pattern of the steps creates the coded instructions for building living things.” 

I was delighted to discover a wonderful YouTube video of the author reading the book--don’t miss it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS9bqd5KBLs


My generation didn’t know much of anything about DNA until  at least junior high. GROW: SECRETS OF OUR DNA is a captivating informational picture book that makes a fundamental concept of biology readily accessible to elementary school students. 


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com





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