What’s Living in Your Kitchen?

20Apr10

What’s Living in Your Kitchen?
By Andrew Solway

This informative picture book is a glimse into the hidden, microscopic world all around us

In the Hidden Life series, Solway investigates different realms of these little worlds –  other books including  What’s Living on Your Body?, What’s Living in Your Backyard?, and What’s Living in Your Bedroom?.
In this look into the “minibeasts” (5) that inhabit our kitchens, Solway  introduces of to microbes, fungi, and bacteria that invisibly rule our kitchens. I thought it was so interesting to learn that dust “crumbs of food, ashes from burning, wood shavings, pollen, and perhaps soil. But one of the main things in household dust is bits of your skin.” (7) EWWW! Taking full advantage of the dusty buffet we humans provide, eyeless dust mites eat our old skin slakes . Check out this beauty:

Something interesting I learned from this informative non-fiction text was that when people are allergic to dust, they are actually allergic to chemicals in the droppings and skin-sheddings of the little dust mites!  In addition to dust mites, there are even little mites that live in flour and cheese specifically.

Although these little “minibeasts” seem kind of disgusting, and definitely don’t have their looks going for them either, it is important to recognize that they are an essential component to our ecosystems and play a critical role in the production of food products like cheese, bread, beer, yogurt, and wine. Sometimes certain bacteria can be harmful to us, so we must take necessary precautions like washing our hands and keeping surfaces and foods disinfected.

The views from the electronic microscopes included in this text give an interesting glimpse to a world that is otherwise invisible. An interesting feature of this text is that the author has included that level of magnification required for the image to give the reader an idea of scale. Because microscopic scale is pretty foreign to most people, the author has included a two-page spread in the back of the book called the “Table of Sizes” that shows different things mentioned in the book – for example, a dust mite is shown as it would appear 50 times bigger than normal to help the reader understand just how small it really is. Another example is the picture of a yeast cell, which is 20 times enlarged making is 1,000 times bigger than normal.

I think this text would be an interesting compliment to a science curriculum where magnification is being discussed. The real-life microscope shots and the explanation of microscopic scale will help establish students’ understanding of these microscopic realms.

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One Response to “What’s Living in Your Kitchen?”

  1. 1 Amy Moser

    I am such a fan of cheese so reading this made me go, “YUCK! I’m never eating that again!” However, your point about these “minibeasts” aiding in the production of food products was quite fascinating (and clarifying so that I won’t have to give up my cheese obsession!) 🙂 I guess we’re lucky that we don’t have microscopic vision as humans, or else I don’t know if we would even venture into our kitchens! However, it is important to note that it reinforces handwashing, proper cleaning of the kitchen and items, and throwing out moldy food. Now that you’ve read about this, I would be interested in reading Solway’s book, “What’s living inside your body?” I’m curious to see what would make us go “EWW” in that!


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