Samira and the Skeletons by Camilla Kuhn, translated by Don Bartlett [in Booklist]
For Samira, learning about skeletons proves to be downright mortifying. Samira insists that neither she nor her best friend, Frida, could possibly have anything so terrible inside of them. But after their teacher confirms the awful truth, suddenly Samira can’t help but visualize being surrounded by skulls, ribs, spines, and even bones that come “peeping out of your mouth” (aka teeth).
Getting through the school day is barely bearable, but thankfully Samira’s mother promises relief, reminding Samira that worms and jellyfish live distinctly skeleton-free lives. But when mom starts pulling out her bone extraction tools, Samira decides she might need to give her skeleton another chance.
This Norwegian import is icky and unsettling even while being a guffaw-inducing exploration of the human body, complete with comically exaggerated anatomical drawings of what lurks beneath our skin. Beyond the guaranteed giggles, Kuhn adds a subtle teaching moment: by presenting Samira with dark skin and her best friend with lighter skin, and then showing both of their skeletons (and later, somewhat horrifyingly, muscles), Kuhn highlights how much we are the same underneath. That said, her subversive humor goes another step further with oversized heads to warn us, ‘don’t think too much.’ Entertaining insight indeed.
Review: modified from “Books for Youth,” Booklist, February 15, 2016