Allison Prior reviews this informative text for scientists aged 11-16

Why is snot green?
Glenn Murphy
Basingstoke: Macmillian 2007 | Pp234 | £4.99 | ISBN 0 330 44852 8

Why is snot green? Cover

This bright, garish book tries to answer its title and other pressing questions for the young scientist aged 11-16. Do spiders have ears? Do rabbits fart? What do people taste like to sharks and tigers? Glenn Murphy from the Science Museum in London has tried to think of every awkward question posed to him and answer it wittily, but with straightforward science. 

The result is a book packed full of information that would not be out of place on a GCSE science paper. The topics covered are diverse ranging from the layers of the Earth ('Could you dig your way through the Earth to Australia?'), through the universe ('What is space made of?'), to digestion ('Why does your poo go runny when you get diarrhoea?'). 

Not being part of the book's intended audience I offered it to my KS4 students to read and review. The girls, perhaps unsurprisingly, were initially wary of a book that described the colour of snot but the boys were clamouring to borrow it. Many had read books of a similar nature but this seemed to be their runaway favourite. 

The layout, cartoons and questions that I had found irritating they found page turning. They were soon arguing which fact was the most revolting, which question the most ridiculous etc, creating enough interest to get the girls past the title and encouraging them to read the book. 

As their science teacher I was on the one hand delighted, not only did it increase my students' interest in science but unbeknown to them they were happily absorbing GCSE fact after fact. My problem with Murphy's success is that as far as my students are concerned the awkward questions have only just begun.