Science books for kids, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, Pragmatic Mom

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain is Fantastic

Science Picture Book for Kids on Their Brains

I was an unhappy pre-med major so I took all the hard sciences and suffered mightily as one would when you are in over your head and also hating the subject matter that you are supposed to be mastering.  My father was a math professor so I got plenty of math supplementation at home but not so much in the sciences.  And yet, I believe that science can be fun.

In fact, I know this to be true.  My epiphany was walking home from class one day with a dorm mate who said that of all the classes available at our college, he would choose chemistry.  That was a mind blowing moment for me.  We were walking home from chemistry (or maybe physics) and I thought all pre meds took these torturous classes because of med school requirements, not because they actually liked it.  This moment in time was pivotal for me and I eventually gave up my unhappy premed quest and ended up in a much happier place studying business.  But still wish that I had more science exposure when I was younger, like another college friend with scientists for parents. He grew up teething on the periodic table so it was not a huge surprise that he found Organic Chemistry to be an intuitive, fun, brain-stretching puzzle, much like I am with “Find a Word” puzzles  (I am seriously fast at finding those hidden words).

I’ve made an effort to introduce the sciences to my kids in palatable ways.  Thus far, it was basically solely through The Magic School Bus which I LOVE .  We own every DVD every sold and practically, if not actually, every book as well.  My kids like some topics more than others and that’s actually a perfect way to expose kids to the breadth of science topics out there.  Baking is a science if you think about it.  And who doesn’t find dinosaurs or plants fascinating?

So when I was offered Your Fantastic Elastic Brain to try out (via PDF though I hope a hard copy is coming) by Dr. JoAnn Deak , I said yes,  hoping it would be fun and educational.  And happily it is both!

Science books for kids, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, Pragmatic MomYour Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It by Dr. Joann Deak [non fiction picture book, ages 4-8].  The book is $17.95.  To get a 25% discount, please click here and use this coupon code:  PRMOM.

What I especially like about this book is the part about how the brain “stretches.”  My sister is a piano teacher (of the Über variety; you know, 3 year wait list) and kept me abreast of all the research coming out of U. C. Irvine about the intersection of the brain, music, and learning.  She has perfect pitch hearing which means that she can identify any note or sets of notes she hears.  Play a note for her and from another room, she can tell you what it is.  “C sharp”  or “a 5th”.  It turns out that perfect pitch hearing is both genetic and learned BUT if you are not exposed to a fixed pitch instrument (i.e. piano or another instrument that plays consistent notes as opposed to say a violin, where your fingers s-l-i-d-e to seek the note out), by age 10, you will lose that ability to have perfect pitch hearing forever.  Yes, forever.  It’s a door that slams shut.

I suspect that foreign language acquisition in terms of accent and fluency is similar though I haven’t seen the research.  There are windows of opportunity while the brain is forming that are either stimulated thus creating more pathways, or not stimulated and shut down.  Sad but true.

This is the first book that I’ve seen that presents this information in a really fun way to kids (and parents) and also in a not HIGH PRESSURE WE LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY AND MUST GET OUR KIDS INTO A PARTICULAR PRESCHOOL SO HE OR SHE WILL NEVER GET INTO HARVARD kind of way which I really appreciate because those scare tactics really do scare me.

Instead, this book is gently encouraging kids to try new things after taking time to point out how the brain works.  The message to the kids is that you are one sculpting and shaping your brain so be the driver not the passenger in this amazing journey called life!

Isn’t this fantastic?  My son who is 6 thought so too!  But this is just my humble opinion.  To get more book reviews, please check out the Blog Tour stops at Little Pickle Press Blog.

To examine this book, please click on icon of book at the top.

To get a 25% discount, please click here and use this coupon code: PRMOM

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I’m still trying to stretch my brain when it comes to music. I love it, but playing it – that’s another matter. I’ve always been so envious of people who have a “natural” knack for it, meaning they are really good at demonstrating their aptitude… like at a party. 😉 Great post – I hope it generates some conversation!

  2. Hello everyone, I am the lucky author of this book. I say lucky because my passion is helping teachers and parents and children understand what helps a person to grow and become healthy, resilient and capable, and this book is designed to ‘get the word out’ and do exactly that. Lucky because the illustrator captured everything so well. Lucky because Little Pickle Press only publishes books that are good for children and does it in an environmentally appropriate way. Lucky because we are trying to get the word out on blogs like this one and you are helping.
    I’m passionate about this work and have spoken all over the world sharing the research that shows that this window of the magic decade is so critical: so critical to try things, learn by mistakes, but not stress the brain by trying to do too much.
    So, I’ll be logging in periodically today and would love to respond to your questions or comments: like the one about foreign language! There is a window…

    • Wow! Thanks so much for stopping by. GREAT book! Please give me more details on the window for foreign languages… I started my kids very early because I thought it was similar to music. My kids are not conversational in either Spanish or Mandarin, but their accents are decent and that was my focus. They are two polar opposite languages! 🙂

  3. The more I learn about this book, the more I can see it would be both educational and entertaining for youngsters. I love the page the show. That would definitely keep youngsters attention from page to page.

    Thoughts in Progress

  4. This really looks like an amazing book. I’m so impressed with Little Pickle Press!

  5. Thanks for the comprehensive, informative review. To touch the book is something special as it is printed on paperless pages made of TerraSkin, which is a stone byproduct. Your physical copy is on its way to you, Pragmatic Mom. Enjoy!

  6. So good to see the comments about the book. As the author, I’m not sure I have objective eyes to see it, but the reviews so far do support the impact that it is having on children, parents and teachers. I have been pleased to see that many schools are ordering multiple copies.

  7. Carolina Goodman

    I thought my 5 year old grandson would be too young for this book, but he was fascinated by the organ illustrations. It gave us a way to begin talking about the connections between our brain and the way our bodies work. I realize now that this is a book that he and I will read many times over the years and focus on different ideas as he develops!

  8. Carolina, I think a child as young as 4 can enjoy the illustrations at some level, and I agree, the book grows up with the child. It speaks at different levels, even to adults. I’m just now at the point of enjoying and guffawing at the little mouse and owl. Funny characters, those two. ;D

  9. I love the conversation between Rana and Carolina.
    As I get feedback from teachers, parents and grandparents, that is one of the themes: This book works for a huge age range and different ages get different things out of it. Since children love to have books read repetitively, my hope is that reading it or having it read to them will keep stretching their understanding of how to help their brain grow.
    So far, the oldest person to read, enjoy and feel they learned something from the book: 82 years old!
    JD: the author

  10. Susan J Tweit

    Your Fantastic Elastic Brain strikes me as one of those classic books that will inspire kids of all ages–as JoAnn pointed out, at least one 82-year-old has read it and learned from it! Pragmatic Mom, I appreciate your focus on what will work for you and your kids, and your understanding that for a book to be effective, it’s got to be fun as well as informative. I bet you’ll love the physical book when you get your copy!

    • To Susan,
      I can’t wait to get my own copy. I think my kids will all like it, but my son who is 6 will make me read it 56 times at least! He also loves Math Curse and Science Verse so this is right up his alley and will give us a break from Pokemon!

  11. I’m curious about the language question, too, since English is my second language. However, I learned it in 1st grade, so have no accent. I’ve heard that the marker year is around age 12… after that, a child will retain some accent from their original language. Is that just heresay?

    • To Dani,
      I thought I read that babies can make any sound up until the age of 1 year (12 months) and after that, if they are not exposed to the sound, they slowly lose the ability to say it. That does seem early to me, so maybe it was 12 years instead?!! I would love for someone who studies this to clue us in! Let me ask my neighbor. She is a professor at Boston University and she studies early language acquisition.

  12. Hello everyone, this is Sarah Ackerley, illustrator of Your Fantastic Elastic Brain. Thank you, Pragmatic Mom, for such a great review of this wonderful book! I was very attracted to the focus of the book being the elasticity of our brains. I think this is such an important message to teach kids. It’s not about being “smart”, it’s about growing and stretching and challenging your fantastic brain! The book presents such fun ways to do this, too: learning magic tricks, diving in the deep end, playing the piano, etc. I really enjoyed illustrating this book!

    • To Sarah,
      I also love the idea that stretching the brain makes you able to do more things. Your illustrations really make the book come alive and are so appealing. It is what makes the book fun to read!

  13. Monika Earner

    The very first time I heard of this book I thought it sounded great, but then JoAnn writes great books. The page above is the first one I’ve seen from it and it definitely lives up to my expectations. As I live in Europe, it will take longer to get hold of it – but I’m ordering it. I’m also trying to get our school to get a number of copies to tie in with our Brain Awareness Week coming up soon.

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