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Book Reviews

You Just Can’t Help It! Your Guide to the Wild and Wacky World of Human Behavior

by Jeff Szpirglas; Josh Holinaty, illus.

That humans are weird (but fascinating) is the idea behind You Just Can’t Help It! by Toronto science writer and elementary school teacher Jeff Szpirglas. Billed as The Naked Ape meets Mad Magazine, the book uses zany, kid-pleasing humour to explore a smorgasbord of odd human behaviour, such as gesturing while speaking or using extended eye contact to make others feel uncomfortable.

The book explores four general topics: senses, emotions, communication, and interaction with others. Each chapter contains an in-depth look at scientific experiments that have been done in the field of human beaviour. (Kids are sure to get a kick out of the Australian study that used blended poo to discover if new moms prefer the odour of their own babies’ diapers over those of other kids.) As a bonus, there are suggestions for potential at-home experiments on things like personal space and reactions to tickling.

Szpirglas’s writing style is folksy and conversational, engaging young readers with direct questions and instructions. The lively layout offers information in palatable, bite-sized bits. The combined drawing/photo illustrations by Edmonton artist Josh Holinaty give the pages a youthful, kinetic look

You Just Can’t Help It! is a fun way to introduce young readers to many aspects of human behaviour, and may whet their appetites to explore some of the topics in greater depth.