Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The 4-1-1 On The Muscles Book

It's been a while since my last blog about my books in THE SUM OF OUR PARTS series.  What better way to move back into sampling the series than to feature the third book in the series:  "Muscles Make Us Move".

From the title, if you guessed the book is about the muscles in the human body, you would be right.  In fact, there are over 630 muscles which keep things moving, from the biggest muscles that let us run, jump, throw and do other large physical movements, to the tiniest muscle that moves the smallest bone inside our ear.

Without any muscles
You'd be in a fix---
With just skin and bones,
You couldn't do tricks,

Like jumping high hurdles
Or swimming a race;
Or squinting both eyes
Or running in place.

Like the other books in the series, "Muscles Make Us Move" is written in rhyme.  At times coming up with the rhyming sets and word sequences to maintain the rhythm in the book were a bit of a challenge.  As with the other books in the series, working the anatomical terminology into the verses created some interesting and quirky sentence structure.  Here's a warm up to get you started using the muscle "tibialis anterior", a term which is not too hard and it has a decent rhythm when you say all by itself:

Tibialis anterior,
On the front by the shin,
Lifts the toes with each step
So you won't scrape your chin.

But let's face it, "sternocleidomastoid", which is a muscle up in your neck, isn't exactly your ordinary, every day noun.  And when a single word can have as many syllables as an entire line of verse, sometimes you just have to cross your fingers and jump into the meter with both feet.  Here's how working that muscle into the verse came out:

Turn your head to the left,
Check your neck on the right.
Is there in plain sight.

OK.  That should give you a flavor of the rhyming content.  As for the sequencing of the verses, the human body is very cooperative.  For both the Bones book and the Muscles book, I simply started with the feet and moved up.  There are a couple detours when you get into the upper body, especially with the arms and hands that are just sort of hanging out there.  But otherwise, the content sequencing wasn't much of a stretch---sorry, couldn't resist.... 

In addition to the rhyming verses, which were great fun to write, the book is packed with lots of interesting facts about the muscles and what they do for us.  Let's take a look at a few of what are called "FACTOIDS" in the book:
  • Believe it or not, the strongest muscles in the body is most often thought to be a muscle in the jaw by the name of the masseter, which is used for chewing.
  • The longest muscle in the body (the sartorius muscle) stretches from the top of the hip to below the knee....  The sartorius muscle is the one you use to help to cross the leg, just like a tailor would do when he is sewing.  So, it is also often referred to as the "tailor's muscle".
  • There are about 30 facial muscles in your face which allow you to make different expressions or "faces".  So, whenever you look surprised, happy, mad or sad, you are using your facial muscles.
This should give you an idea about what you can find in "Muscles Make Us Move".  It's written at a level that is appropriate for younger children just beginning to learn about the muscles and how they work.  Yet it can also work well as a learning tool for older middle school students digging into the technical Latin and Greek based terminology for the first time in 7th Grade science class. 

Sometimes memorizing unusual sounding terms and new words can be a bit of a drag.  Placing the terminology in the context of form and function using quirky verses, may help it stick.  To purchase the book or for additional information about it, check out the book page on the Guardian Angel Publishing website at . 

Now, for a little something extra, although this book doesn't happen to have a "Bonus Rhyme", here is a rhyme that could easily fit the "muscle" theme.  So, let's get busy.

The Exercise Of Exercise
By Bill Kirk

Exercise is easy
To write down on a chart.
The hard part is the doing;
The first step is to start.

Writing lists is helpful,
If that’s not all you do.
You’ve got to take that first step
And after that, take two.

Three steps, then another—
You’d better grab your cap.
Soon ten leads to a hundred;
Four hundred make a lap.

And each four laps repeated
Will make an even mile.
In twenty minutes, you’ll be done.
Do I detect a smile?

That’s exactly what I’m sayin’!
Now give yourself a shout!
You overcame the challenge.
That’s what it’s all about!


  1. Hi Bill, I love the rhyming way to learn about this complex subject. You make it so much fun! I'm recommending it to my elementary science teacher friend! Keep them coming!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Penelope, and for the vote of confidence. Hopefully, these books will be of some help to kids struggling with the anatomical terms---or maybe they will inspire a young poet along the way.

  2. Hi bill, I posted on here this morning, but I guess it didn't go through. Loved the poem, and wishing you great success with the new muscle book. You have a wonderful collection of educational books.

    1. Hi, Susan. Thanks for the kind words. I noticed that you had "followed" earlier when there was no comment so I figured it would take extra time to appear. Thanks for signing up---and I'm glad you took the time to check back a second time.

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  4. Hi, Bill,

    As usual, I love your work! It made me smile this morning.

    1. Thanks, Nancy. Smiles are good. Glad to share this one with you.

  5. Terrific post Bill. Whoda thunk muscles could be such "fun." Your rhymes makes all the difference, mate. A great kid friendly job.

    Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

    1. Hi, Margot. From one rhymer to another, you are light years ahead of me. Thanks for the kind words of encouragement. I'm looking forward to your next tale from down under....