The Secret Code Inside You – Perfect Picture Book Friday

How often do we find a picture book that combines rhyme with genetics? Hmmmm….never! Until now.

Text ©️Rajani LaRocca Illustration ©️Steven Salerno

Why aren’t you fuzzy like a dog,

or buzzy like a bee?

Why can’t you eat ants with your nose,

or breathe beneath the sea?

Questions lead to questions until we start getting answers:

Text ©️Rajani LaRocca Illustration ©️Steven Salerno

Now when you think of life that grows

with leaves or fur or wings,

cells are the tiny building blocks

of all earth’s living things.

And in the center of each cell,

too small for eyes to see,

there lie detailed instructions

for what it’s supposed to be.

Cue the standing ovation for Rajani’s smooth, rhyming text explaining the science behind DNA and what makes us US in a way that kids can absorb!

Back matter includes just the right amount of additional information about genetics and a BONUS Banana DNA experiment that allows kids to synthesize and see DNA up close and personal. Steven Salerno’s energetic and colorful illustrations add to the fun of learning. A great resource for parents and teachers!


Do the DNA experiment from the back of the book.

Make your own DNA helix. Or one that’s color-coded. A model for older kids.

Make two different lists of traits that you share with each of your parents, such as eye, hair, or skin color; whether you can curl your tongue in the shape of a tube; whether cilantro tastes like soap to you; or whether your thumbs are double-jointed. Can you see how you get different traits from each of your parents? Are there any traits that you share with a grandparent that may have skipped your parent?

Title: The Secret Code Inside You: All About Your DNA

Author: Rajani LaRocca

Illustrator: Steven Salerno

Publisher: Little Bee, 2021

Themes: STEM, DNA, personal agency

Ages: Elementary school

For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.

16 thoughts on “The Secret Code Inside You – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Patricia Tilton says:

    You’re right, I’ve never seen a book like this for young children. It gives just the right amount of information that kids can think about. I love your activities as they add to the story in a very concrete way. Thanks for sharing this clever book!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      😳 I suggest you poll your friends. See what the distribution of tongue rollers in within that subset of the population. Please report back. Eyebrow raising, I believe is nurture, not nature, LOL.

  2. Sue Heavenrich says:

    There are definitely times I wish I were furry – especially as the winter draws nigh. What a wonderful book by Rajani.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      I am jealous of our dog, who waits patiently while we put on the coats and shoes. It does seem so much easier to have the fur. But then she’s at a disadvantage in hot weather. This book is a terrific mentor text for presenting STEM in rhyme, a tough order, as you know.

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