The Secret Code Inside You: All About Your DNA (Hardcover)

The Secret Code Inside You: All About Your DNA By Rajani LaRocca, Steven Salerno (Illustrator) Cover Image

The Secret Code Inside You: All About Your DNA (Hardcover)

By Rajani LaRocca, Steven Salerno (Illustrator)


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"Dynamic and eye-catching illustrations. . . . A solid introduction to a complex topic." -Kirkus Reviews

"This whimsical approach to explaining the concept of DNA, cells, and chromosomes manages to make a complex topic accessible to preschoolers." -School Library Journal

Learn about the secret code that is DNA in this vibrant and informative picture book!

There's a secret code inside you, a code called DNA.
A code that tells your body's cells what they should do each day.
It looks like twisted ladders, or tiny, twirling noodles.
It makes us into people, instead of into poodles.

Why can't humans breathe underwater? Why are some people tall and others short? Why do we resemble our parents and grandparents? This book explores all this and more in flowing, rhyming text, explaining cells, DNA, and genetics in a way that is simple and easy for children to understand. Colorful and brilliantly illustrated, The Secret Code Inside You illustrates that while DNA may be the blueprint for how a person looks, what you choose to do with your body is entirely up to you!
Rajani LaRocca, MD, was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area with her wonderful family and impossibly cute dog. She earned a BA and an MD from Harvard, and spends her time writing novels and picture books, practicing medicine, and baking too many sweet treats. She is the author of Midsummer's Mayhem, Much Ado About Baseball, Seven Golden Rings, and Red, White, and Whole. Find her online at and on Twitter and Instagram @rajanilarocca.

Steven Salerno has illustrated more than thirty picture books, including Brothers At Bat, which made the New York Times Book Review's list of notable picture books, The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons, which won the Irma Black Award for Excellence in Children's Literature, and Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag. Originally from Vermont, Steven lives and works in New York City.
Product Details ISBN: 9781499810752
ISBN-10: 149981075X
Publisher: little bee books
Publication Date: September 14th, 2021
Pages: 40
Language: English
Operating on three levels, this book will help readers crack their own secret codes.
As they begin their exploration of the concept of DNA, the youngest listeners will be drawn in with questions featuring fun animals and text with internal and end rhymes, alliteration, and puns. "Why aren't you finny like a fish, / or grinny like a shark? / Why can't you catch flies with your tongue, / or / see / things / in / the / dark?" Describing DNA as "twisted ladders, or tiny, twirling noodles" creates accessible concrete images for children. The science ramps up for slightly older readers and discusses how personal traits like height or the size of a child's nose, ears, or hands are determined by the DNA that parents and grandparents share with their children. Definitions and explanations of key vocabulary like genes and chromosomes are clear, but the rhyming format creates the occasional awkward phrase. Dynamic and eye-catching illustrations on later pages emphasize the difference between genetic coding and each person's unique choices. "[DNA] makes the color of your eyes, / but YOU choose where to look: / at butterflies or sunset skies, / or even at this book." Personal choice also determines how someone uses their muscles and chooses an occupation. For older readers or the more science curious, the backmatter is full of DNA facts and explanations, URLs to child-friendly websites, and a well-designed and -explained experiment to extract DNA from a banana.
A solid introduction to a complex topic.
— Kirkus Reviews

Have you ever wondered why you can't catch flies with your tongue like a lizard, or see in the dark like an owl, or fly like a bird? The answer is found in a secret code called DNA, deep inside each human, giving bodies the instructions they need to grow. And while cells carry these secret codes, what people do with their bodies-and who they become-is up to them. This whimsical approach to explaining the concept of DNA, cells, and chromosomes manages to make a complex topic accessible to preschoolers. The rhyming text is easily readable, even when dealing with complicated terminology. Salerno's soft-edge and colorful illustrations bring these hard-to-visualize concepts to life. Resources include a detailed page of DNA facts as well as instructions for a fun experiment. However, suggestions for further reading are limited to a few websites, and only two sources are cited in the bibliography. A good addition for public libraries, appealing to a wide age range.
— School Library Journal