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Children's Nonfiction Anatomy & Physiology

It Takes Guts

How Your Body Turns Food Into Fuel (and Poop)

by (author) Jennifer Gardy

illustrated by Belle Wuthrich

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2021
Anatomy & Physiology, Body, Diet & Nutrition
Recommended Age
8 to 12
Recommended Grade
3 to 7
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2021
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2024
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Winner of the 2023 AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books

An illustrated book about the digestive system and microbiome for young readers, from famous (and funny) scientist Dr. Jennifer Gardy.

Everybody eats, and everybody poops. Pretty ordinary stuff, right?

But what happens in between is far from ordinary! That’s where your digestive system—also known as your gut—works its magic.

It Takes Guts is an excellent, science-based resource for classroom learning and home-schooling for kids age 9 to 13, with information about:

  • The surprising role that food and digestion play in your mood and immune system.
  • The amazing tools your body uses to break down food including acids, which do their thing without burning a hole in your stomach!
  • The incredible truth that not all bacteria is bad! Billions of “helpful bacteria” belong in your gut.
  • And so much more!

Dr. Jennifer Gardy also takes stomach-turning detours to investigate the science behind burps, barfs, and farts, proving that learning about the wonderful world of your gut—takes guts!

About the authors

Jennifer Gardy, PhD is a self-described disease detective. Currently deputy director, Surveillance, Data, and Epidemiology for the the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's malaria team, she has worked at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and hosted science documentaries for CBC Television and Discovery Channel Canada, in addition to research and teaching. She splits her time between Seattle and Chicago.

Jennifer Gardy's profile page

Belle Wuthrich is an illustrator and designer specializing in books for young readers. Based in Vancouver, Belle has contributed to more than a dozen books for kids, a number of which have won awards or been republished internationally, including the Montaigne Medal Award–winning Eyes and Spies: How You’re Tracked and Why You Should Know and the Silver Birch Award nominee Eat Up: An Infographic Exploration of Food.

Belle Wuthrich's profile page


  • Winner, Lane Anderson Award, Young Readers Category
  • Short-listed, Alcuin Society Design Award
  • Long-listed, SLA Information Book Award
  • Winner, Intermediate Nonfiction -ILA Children's Book Award

Editorial Reviews

“Gardy has digested an impressive amount of information to produce a highly polished gem of a book.”
Quill & Quire STARRED review

“Readers who have wondered how their bodies turn food into fuel and feces need look no further. All the juicy details are in this book. A fascinating, sometimes funny read that goes well beyond the scatological.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will come away from this lively anatomical odyssey marveling at the complex interplay of digestive organs, enzymes, and microbes ... [A] deliciously digestible disquisition.”

“What exactly is the science behind barfs and burps? And what about poop? Dr. Jennifer Gardy gives up all the juicy details on the magnificent human body.”

“Author Dr. Jennifer Gardy turns what would be a stinky situation into something almost magical, how your body’s organs work together to extract all the good stuff from food (like vitamins and minerals) and get rid of the waste by pooping it out.”

“Packed with information…. Kids will enjoy the way the information is presented as well as the lighthearted tone…. entertaining, interesting, and informative. ...helpful to students who wonder about, or who are doing research on, this body system.”
School Library Connection

“Perfect for a curious kid, this book doesn't take the humor out of the situation; instead, it lets kids find out how truly cool it all is.”
The Guam Daily Post

“I wish my parents had read this book to me growing up. It would have made my time in medical school so much more productive, and made me a much better doctor after that. Should be mandatory reading in all schools.”
—Dr. Alejandro Junger, author of Clean books and founder of the Clean Program

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