Thursday, April 26, 2012

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

The Everything Kids’ Book of Outrageous Facts, by Beth Blair and Jennifer Ericsson.  140 pages. 
The extraordinary, the amazing and the simply outrageous are featured in The Everything Kids’ Book of Outrageous Facts – a book that kids are likely to find too engrossing to put down, even for a second.
Readers will discover many awesome facts. eg. Some of the sand dunes in the Sahara Desert are so huge that they would measure half the height of the Empire State Building. The rhinoceros beetle – one of the earth’s biggest insects – is the size of a coffee mug. The average person eats up to 430 insects a year. (Gross, yes – but kids will be so intrigued to learn this!) They’ll discover that scientists now believe that the earth is  more than 4 billion years old ... and that in 2005, several toads in Europe exploded when they puffed themselves up to look bigger. (Looks like they over did it a little. Again, gross!) 
All sorts of wild, wacky and fascinating information about animals, bugs, dinosaurs, planets and stars, chemistry and other sciences, sports and even names are revealed in this book.  (Try reading aloud one of the longest place names in North America ... “Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg”, which means “You fish on your side and I’ll fish on my side, and nobody fishes in the middle!”  The name was probably given long ago when a fishing dispute was being settled.)
Related quizzes, experiments and other activities add to this book’s appeal.  What may be the most attractive feature for kids about this informative book, however, is that according to the authors, all of the bizarre and unbelievable phenomena included here is  .... absolutely true!
** Recommended for ages 8 to 12 years. 
Weird But True! 300 Outrageous Facts, by the Editors of National Geographic, 206 pages.
Would your children be interested to hear that an ostrich can run as fast as a racehorse, that popsicles were invented by an 11-year-old, that sharks have existed on the earth longer than trees, and that some worms can grow to be 31 metres (about 100 feet) long?  Of course they would!  They would also be interested in the other 300 outrageous facts included in each of the three books of the newly-published National Geographic series entitled Weird But True!
For young readers who love reading about the “amazing but true”, this series would fit the bill. Each book presents 300 facts about animals, the human body, the universe, inventions etc. which are downright wacky, startling, outrageous or unbelievable - even for adults. (Are you aware that animals which lay eggs don’t have belly buttons, that “hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia” is the fear of long words, or that the human stomach would dissolve itself without mucus?)
Students will be interested to know that chewing gum while taking tests may improve test scores.  
Many of the facts included are quite amusing.  Some examples: a performer who lives in China can blow up balloons using his ears; a male African cicada bug can make a sound as loud as a power mower, and an ostrich’s eye is larger than its brain!   
One of the beauties of this series is its format.  With only a few facts on each page and lots of colourful graphics, these books would appeal to reluctant readers as well as enthusiastic readers – in fact, these would be great books for families to read together.
One last interesting fact (which relates to Green Week and every week of the year): recycling just one soda can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours.
** Recommended for ages 7 to 11 years.

These reviews appeared in The Stratford Gazette on April 26, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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