Felice Jacka (text) and Rob Craw (illustrator), There’s a Zoo in My Poo, Pan Macmillan Australia, July 2020, 64pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760783044
The relatively new and exciting field of medical research into gut flora and its impact on our health is explained in a wonderfully child-centred way in this very entertaining and funny book. Toilet humour has always appealed to younger readers so the many references to poo and farts should tickle their funny bones while providing accurate information.
Likening the population of gut flora in our bodies to a zoo and looking after it to being a zookeeper is a stroke of genius. Everything from what sorts of bugs there are, where they live and what to feed them is shown on colourful pages with cartoon character bacteria and accompanying rhymes. The text is divided into sections only one or two pages in length and varies from plain font to captions and ‘handwritten’ parts. There is also a ‘Recipes for your Zoo’ section at the back but no index or glossary.
Professor Felice Jacka is a world expert in this field, especially in the emerging area of the relationship between gut flora and mental health. She is founder and president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research and Director of the Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University. Her research has documented the role of food in adolescent depression, so this is a topic of vital importance. The illustrator, Rob Craw, is her life partner. Together they have created a wonderful information book for kids that will also teach their parents a lot about diet and its effects on gut health – and hence on overall wellbeing.
There’s a Zoo in my Poo has been Notabled in the 2021 CBCA Eve Pownall Awards for Information Books.
Reviewed by Lynne Babbage