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Michael Dow
Nurse Florence®, How Does the Brain Work?
Michael Dow, author

Picture Book; Science, Nature, Technology; (Market)

Condi, Jean, and Sonia sit with Nurse Florence during lunch. They ask her to discuss how the brain works. Nurse Florence uses images from the internet to discuss the topic. The girls ask brilliant questions and are amazed.
Dow’s educational, easy-to-understand picture book for young children introduces Florence, a helpful school nurse named after the legendary Florence Nightingale, who teaches three friends about the human brain. At lunch, the students join Nurse Florence at her table and ask her about the most interesting thing in the body. She responds by pulling out her phone and eagerly giving them a crash course on neurons, the medulla oblongata, and more. The girls are excited to learn and ask questions about the brain, ultimately deciding that “they wonder what a college human anatomy class would be like and how fun it would be since they learn so many neat things with Nurse Florence during their lunch meetings.”

Throughout the story, Dow demonstrates trust in readers’ intelligence by using the scientific terms for the parts of the brain, offering a phonetic guide to help with pronunciation and detailed definitions in the glossary. This was an intentional choice. As a healthcare provider, he knows that early exposure to correct terminology and science concepts can increase health literacy and prepare kids for jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math. He is also aware that representation matters—Nurse Florence is a Black woman, another intentional choice, one that encourages children of color visualize themselves in medical professions where they are often underrepresented.

As Florence introduces each part of the brain, Roberts’ helpful oil pastel illustrations show diagrams of the different folds and lobes with each highlighted by an arrow. The pictures also show Florence and the students smiling and eating their lunch as they sit together at a table, demonstrating the power of teachers who take a genuine interest in their students. As the healthcare system is in crisis due to a shortage of nurses, this book also serves a vital role in creating interest in health care careers for the next generation.

Takeaway: Inviting, illuminating picture book on the workings of the brain.

Comparable Titles: JoAnn Deak's Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, Kate Lennard's Young Genius: Brains.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A