Monday, February 14, 2011

Book review: Weird but true! 2 is filled with facts kids care about

If you want to get a little boy's attention, tell him something true about a dinosaur or his favorite superhero. Whether it has something to do with wanting to impress their friends or a natural curiosity, children love nonfiction books. There’s just something neat about real facts, especially when it has to do with interesting things about monkeys and dolphins, ice cream, boogers and Zamboni machines and stuff most people don't know.

Did you know that a piece of cake more than 4,000 years old was found in a tomb in Egypt? I bet you didn't. Can you imagine how tasty that would be?

How about mosquitoes?
Did you know that boy mosquitoes don't bite?

Get the camera and find the dog. He or she can make about 100 different facial expressions. It's wild but true and one of several hundred wacky entries in "Weird but True! 2: 300 Outrageous Facts" (National Geographic Kids, $6.95), a new children's book illustrated by Jonathan Halling, who was the same artist who worked on National Geographic's first volume on weird. 

Halling's wonderful illustrations and, of course, the amazing photography one would expect in a National Geographic publication are reasons I enjoyed it. It's not just a book about sweet facts, but a whimsical collection of designs and wordage that make it fun to read, out loud, to others. Like a joke book. That's a bonus.

Another thing, most books that are stuffed with interesting facts are difficult for kids to hold -- as in e-n-c-y-c-l-o-p-e-d-i-a! This book's compact size makes it a grab-and-go read; easy to handle and small enough to stuff in a backpack or glove compartment for those road trips that can seem infinite when you've got antsy backseat passengers.

So what's your passion: animals, pyramids, food?

Chances are you'll find a snippet in here. The brain-bending facts provided by National Geographic cover a broad range of topics from animals and science to foods, pop culture and everything in between.

Need a line for a funny Valentine?
A hippo's lips are about two feet wide!

Couples in Finland can get married in a chapel built out of snow.

Oh, yeah and that gizmo your mom and dad are reading from? Let them know, a litter of kittens is also called a kindle.

Oh yeah, and you know how you love snow days? Maybe you should ask your mom if you have "Didaskaleinophobia?" That's the fear of going to school. I'll leave you with that, while I look for something related to work.

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