Fleischman, John. 2002. PHINEAS GAGE: A GRUESOME BUT TRUE STORY ABOUT BRAIN SCIENCE. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 0-618-05252-6.
Phineas Gage is as thrilling as nonfiction books come. This is one science book that children will clamor for, without a yawn or stretch in sight. Among its awards are a 2003 Orbis Pictus Honor book, a 2002 Horn Book Fanfare Selection and a 2002 NSTA-CBC Outstanding Trade Book for Children. It is a finely crafted and well-written work indeed. It is an unusual subject that is new to just about everyone. The inclusion of compelling details about the accident and the aftermath of it are riveting.
The cover of the book, black background with a skull, is eye-catching enough to entice even the most uninterested child of science. Even the squeamish will listen once they get involved in this engrossing story. The content of the story is so personal that the reader finds themselves caring about the man.
Phineas Gage was a man who lived through a terrible accident in 1848 which, amazingly, resulted in brain damage rather than death. This well researched book takes the reader back in time. It explains what was known of medical science at the time of the mishap (a tamping tool is shot through his brain while working with dynamite) and compares it with what is known of brain science today. The book is able to stir an emotional quality within the reader as they learn about the man. At the same time it imparts medical facts and history in an interesting and accurate way, building knowledge of history and medical science.
The photographs and illustrations in this book are eye-catching. Many are full page with a text box caption below with a full explanation of what the picture is about. In the back of the book the reader will find a glossary, resources, and a helpful index. This book about brain science is engaging from the get-go and never lets up. It's a must read.