Did you know there’s a science to being cute? There is…and author Sarah Wassner Flynn’s newest Nat Geo for Kids’ picture book, This Book is Cute! The Soft and Squishy Science and Culture of Aww, is proof.
The book centers around the findings of German researcher Konrad Lorenz, who concluded that the way we interpret cuteness in babies influences how we interpret cuteness in other things. Author Sarah Wassner Flynn presents a close up of an adorable baby crawling toward the camera, and effectively breaks down what it is about babies that compels humans to want to cuddle and protect them. The diagram shows that it’s the babies large round head, fluffy cheeks, big round eyes, floppy limbs, and gummy, toothless smile that triggers the adult brain to feel warm and fuzzy all over, and to want to go, “Goo-goo gah-gah!”
From there, readers are offered adorable pictures of fat and furry puppies running, baby elephants cuddling with their mamas, fluffy Emperor penguin chicks huddling together, and big-eyed, long-eared, button-nosed bunnies hiding in the quivering grass. Each amazing in-your-face Nat Geo image is accompanied by an easy-to-understand explanation of just which features tug at our hearts and makes us want to give them a big hug.
This book is proof that cute comes in all life forms. There are photos of cute fish, cute rubber-necked chameleons, and cute big-eyed tree frogs; cute bug-eyed damselflies, cute bee flies…and there’s even the cutest, weirdest-looking Happy Face spider that appears to be laughing at every image in the book.
This book is a treasure-trove of information. Young readers don’t just learn about “cuteness;” they get to see and learn of insects, mammals, and sea-dwellers. They also get a first-hand look at “cute around the world” — other cultures where cute is the going thing. This includes cute food, cute fruit, and cute characters in Tokyo; cute competitions, cute transportation (ways to get around), cute statues and mascots in other countries; methods of capturing “cute” on camera; and…well, if it’s cute, this book covers it!
There is a detailed index in the back to make finding things more convenient. There’s a cute “Test Your Cute IQ” section (that was a play on words; get it?). There’s a tutorial on how to “draw cute,” and there’s even an article on “the cutest jobs ever.”
Use this book to supplement your science, geography or environmental studies — and just about everything in your regular education program. Use it to jump start a conversation on how “cute” really is in the eye of the beholder; or use it as a leisure activity for just browsing cuteness and going “Goo-goo, gah-gah!”