Cover image for The blood-hungry spleen and other poems about our parts
The blood-hungry spleen and other poems about our parts
Wolf, Allan.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
53 pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
More than three dozen poems describe individual parts of the body and what they do for us and for some parts, such as the face, the verses describe how we communicate nonverbally with other people.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3623.O54 O96 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area

On Order



Ever wondered how many a times a year your heart beats? How big your small intestines are? And which of your muscles looks most like a slug? With great verve and enthusiasm, this book of poems will tickle your funny bone while answering some of those deep anatomical questions.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3-5. Poems about belly buttons, bones, and brains pepper the pages of this decidedly quirky exploration of human anatomy by a former life science teacher. Your tongue is for chewing. For curling. For clicking. / It fits in your mouth like a bug in a rug. / Your tongue is for tasting and lollipop licking. / But hey, folks, let's face it. / It looks like a slug! The 34 poems are uneven, but they are certainly playful in their descriptions of the form and functions of body parts inside and out. Clarke's clever, inventive illustrations depict an anthropomorphized heart beating a drum, tiny humans on rafts navigating the shy silent rivers of the circulatory system, and a blood-hungry spleen chasing blood cells with a knife and fork at the ready. Expect giggles at the specific mention of the anus, penis, etc., though these parts are not graphically represented. More fascinating facts and a bibliography conclude this wacky anatomical tribute that reminds us we are all just skeletons inside. --Karin Snelson Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Wolf's debut, a collection of verse about body parts, is sure to tickle the funny bone (one body part that isn't covered here). Poems range from the sheerly silly ("We all need bones to give us shape/ from little boys to poodles./ That's why our limbs are strong and straight/ instead of limp, like noodles") to downright wise-cracking, as in a poem about a man who discovers his bottom is missing ("Without my behind, I am in quite a muddle./ I'll have to have surgeons perform a re-buttal!"). Clarke's (The Mystery of UFOs) retro paintings of pop-eyed, Gumby-limbed figures confine themselves to shades of reddish brown, flesh and green, giving the book a muted, sepia-toned feel. Clarke substitutes whimsy for biological accuracy. Stomachs run on little treadmills, sweating big beads of perspiration. The disembodied spleen, pictured for the title poem, wears a propeller beanie. Much of the basic biology will be familiar to the target audience, but the final stretch of poems treats trickier subjects: "Consider the Anus," "Your Hormones Are Exciting," "Boy Parts" and "Girl Parts." These Wolf handles with droll wit ("Between his belly and his knees,/ each boy and man has one of these./ The penis is its proper name,/ a treasure only boys can claim"-the companion poem names the vagina as the "treasure only girls can claim"). Illustrations here, while suggestive-a boy looks down his pants with cheerful interest-are not explicit. Kids are sure to relish the author's candor. Ages 8-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-This is a funny look at everything from the spleen of the title-"To the left of your stomach, a deep violet-red,/a filter's at work filling blood cells with dread-"-to "Shy Silent Rivers" (veins and arteries), "Spit," the kidneys Kendra and Kenneth, and the intestines in "Moving Food Along." Expect giggles at "Consider the Anus": "It loves its job/(though most of us poo-poo it)" and consider the audience for "Boy Parts" and "Girl Parts," explicit but gentle rhymes about the penis, scrotum, vagina, uterus, ovaries, and womb: "Between their bellies and their knees,/girls and women all have these./Vagina is its proper name,/a treasure only girls can claim"; switch the gender and the word penis for vagina for the first verse of "Boy Parts." Cheerfully illustrated by Clarke in acrylics, the book has not much more than a smattering of science, but it would make a terrific and enriching addition to any life-science course and a charming gateway into deeper discussions about the body, life, and sexuality. Pair it with Seymour Simon's titles on the body for more scientific material; add Robie H. Harris's It's Perfectly Normal (1994) and It's So Amazing (1999, both Candlewick) to extend the reproductive and sexual information.-Dona Ratterree, New York City Public Schools(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.