Crust and Spray: Gross Stuff in Your Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Throat by C.S. Larsen is one of a series by Lerner Publishing called “Gross Body Science”. I ordered them all for my library and most circulated immediately. Crust and Spray is especially fun and timely during the winter months when kids are sneezing and coughing all over the place. Instead of tossing them out the window, I’m giving them this book and some hand sanitizer.
From front-to-back, Crust and Spray has a lot to recommend it. The cover features a huge eyeball and bright illustrations of bacteria. The chapters are divided into: Boogers, Snot, and Sneezing; Cough, Hack, and Wheeze; Eye Secretions, Pinkeye, and Sties; and Earwax, Ear Germs, and Infections. Does anything more need to be said?
Well, since we’re librarians I’ll evaluate the criteria that make it worth ordering and hand-selling. Crust and Spray is full of vibrant, accurate illustrations by Michael Slack of things like pollen grains, mucus membranes, and fungi. They help present science as something exciting and creative. The book is also full of delightfully disgusting pictures of pus draining from an ear infection (not for the faint of heart), eyeballs, and uvulas. To the delight of any young reader, Larsen has also included a recipe for fake snot. Awesomely gross.
But Larsen doesn’t do gross just for the sake of gross. Crust and Spray includes call-out boxes with “Gross Out” facts that are relevant and clearly written. The writing style is mildly chatty and funny without veering into stupidity. The actual content of the book is quite valuable. I especially like the Glossary, Selected Bibliography, and Further Reading at the back of the book. The Glossary provides and clarifies key terms and the Bibliography and Further Reading act as a relevant gateway to other books and websites. I’ll never have to hunt for booger information again!
Crust and Spray is a great browsing book and provides enough in the way of scientific information to be a fine way for a kid to jump into more technical fare about the body.