________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 9 . . . . January 6, 2006


Research Ate My Brain: The Panic-Proof Guide to Surviving Homework.

Toronto Public Library. Illustrated by Martha Newbigging.
Toronto, Annick Press, 2005.
96 pp., pbk. & cl., $9.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (cl.). ISBN 1-55037-938-0 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-939-9 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Homework-Handbooks, manuals, etc. Research-Methodology-Handbooks, manuals, etc.

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up.

Review by Grace Sheppard.

*** /4


For history class you have to research the life of a famous figure, like Nelson Mandela or Oprah Winfrey, and present the information as a graphic novel. Before you map out your storyboards, you need the facts.

Do you click on Google or some other search engine? In a snap you will find millions of websites. But which should you visit? And, what's more, the Internet is unregulated. There are no rules that decided who can create a website. So, yes, there are a lot of websites. But not all of them are reliable. Or free.

So how do you find the best stuff on the Net?


Research Ate My Brain aims to reassure students that there is no need to hit the panic button when a project is assigned. Working as a “road map” for information seekers, readers will be introduced to the need for a work plan, tricks to navigating physical and virtual libraries, web searching, and evaluating information in order to find reliable sources. Once those sources are located and used, readers can use the final chapter to learn how to cite them.

internal art

     The writing is clear, and the tone is appropriate to middle and high school students. All of the advice and tips given in the book are sound and, if followed, should lead to successful completion of above-average assignments with minimal stress. In each chapter, there is a graphic novel-style story that adds interest and presents the chapter's information visually.

     Unfortunately, even with all of the good writing and visual interest of graphic novel styling, the book can be easy to put down and hard to follow due to its poorly designed layout. The text is continuously interrupted (often in the middle of a list or a paragraph) by the graphic “stories” of intrepid researchers, making it hard to pick up the flow of information once the story is finished. More careful attention to structure would have made each chapter's points much easier to digest.

     Even with this design flaw, the book should appeal to novice researchers and the adults in their lives. The contents are short and snappy and easy to follow. Librarians and teachers presenting Study Skills sessions or courses will do well to use this book as required reading and then as a guide to follow-up class research activities. Parents who are tired of last-minute, late-night panic runs to the public library might also want to encourage their young scholars to have a look at the advice in this book.



Grace Sheppard is a Children's Librarian with the Ottawa Public Library in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.