You Can't Use Your Brain If You're a Jellyfish

Overview

Starting with the lowly earthworm, Dr. Fred Ehrlich looks at the brains of insects, birds, mammals, and finally humans. How are human brains different from those of other animals? What can they do that we can't? What can we do that they can't?
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Overview

Starting with the lowly earthworm, Dr. Fred Ehrlich looks at the brains of insects, birds, mammals, and finally humans. How are human brains different from those of other animals? What can they do that we can't? What can we do that they can't?
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Paul Walter
One would have to have a brain the size of a mosquito—apparently only about as big as the period at the end of a sentence—to miss this book's magical mixture of science and fun. Initially drawn in by the balloon-headed people on the cover, who seem to be straight out of an offbeat Nickelodeon cartoon, the fun really gets going when the same illustration style is used for everything from cockroaches to gorillas. Adding depth to these quirky illustrations is text that is as engaging and insightful as it is informative. The author uses the human brain as a baseline against which other animal brains are compared, starting with the simple nerve collections found in insects to the more complex minds of primates. He is painstakingly careful, though, not to put forth the human brain as "better" than others: "Which animal has the best brain? They all do! A tiger has the proper brain for a tiger; a mosquito has a proper brain for a mosquito…." What sets the human brain apart, according to the book, is our large cerebral cortexes, which deal with language and thought. While some other animals have cerebral cortexes, allowing them to learn from nurture as well as nature, we are the only ones with language capabilities. Ehrlich goes on to make clear just how important a distinction that is, since that ability enables humans to modify their environments to fit their needs. This is important because, as the author points out, "we are (in terms of natural defenses) the most helpless of all animals." One final, necessary point deals with technology. While computers may be "smarter" than us because of their ability to process large amounts of data quickly, humans are more "intelligent" due toour minds' flexibility and reasoning skills. In this time of an explosion of new technologies, Ehrlich's reassurance is a sheltering thought. The only possible distractions apparent are the simple verses scattered throughout the book. For example, "It's true that cockroaches cannot think. They never learn to keep out of the sink." While cute, these rhymes interrupt the flow of the book. Once the reader learns to bypass such verses, this charming book is sure to fire up the old cerebral cortex. That is, unless you're a mosquito.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609051440
  • Publisher: Blue Apple Books
  • Publication date: 7/1/2011
  • Pages: 44
  • Sales rank: 743,717
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Fred Ehrlich, a pediatrician and child psychiatrist, has spent dozens of years advising families on the emotional and physical care of young children. He is the author of many highly acclaimed children's books.

Amanda Haley holds a B.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their golden retriever, Sally.

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