Wednesday, April 3, 2019

3 Books That Are Just Chockablock With Fun Facts

If you have some curious kids in your life, then here are three books are sure to please them as much as they did the older siblings of my young readers - so much so that I was afraid I would never see the books again to write my review. But, they are back now, so here goes...

Everything & Everywhere: A Fact-Filled Adventure for Curious Globe-Trotters 
written and illustrated by Marc Martin
Chronicle Books, 2018, 40 pages, age 7+
Introduce your young readers to the world with this oversized, jam-packed information book. They can explore 16 different places in the world, some well-known, other not so familiar. The adventure begins with Antarctica, then goes on to Alice Springs in Australia; Hong Kong, China; Tokyo, Japan; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; New Delhi, India; Moscow, Russia, Cairo, Egypt; Paris, France; Reykjavík, Iceland; New York City, USA; Galápagos Islands, Ecuador; the Amazon Rainforest; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and finally to Cape Town, South Africa. 
Before beginning these explorations, you might want to study the world map on the end papers to help situate yourself. Turn the page and you will find a two page spread for each location, along with 12 or 13 bytes of information, which range from the silly (yes, real New Yorkers do fold their pizza in half to eat it) to the serious (there are 20 million breeding pairs of penguins in Antarctica). The illustrations (and there are lots of them) are done in watercolors, in Martin's distinctive style, and every information byte captures the flavor, culture, and features that are unique to each place.  

Kids (and adults) will love exploring the pages of this book, and discovering all kinds of interesting information. The book is recommended for kids age 5+, but I found it didn't work well with that age and so I have aged it up to 7+ where it does work. They know more about the world by then and they loved going over the pages - repeatedly.  

Make This! Building, Thinking, and Tinkering Projects for the Amazing Maker in You 
by Ella Schwartz
National Geographic Kids, 2019, 160 pages, 8+
I gave this book to a 10-year-old girl who is not particularly STEM-minded to see what she thought about it. And she loved it. In fact, she did one of the projects for school, a report on systems and make a rain forest in a bottle for it (pg 54-55).

Beginning with a definition of what a maker is, Make This! is organized into eight chapters covering simple machines, materials, systems, optics, energy, acoustics, forces, and motion. Within each chapter are quick facts about each topic and the real life uses of the concepts included in this book, followed by projects kids can do to understand what they just learned. For example, under simple machines, kids learn how to make a pulley, or under optics, they can make a periscope and a telescope, and remember those string telephones we all made as kids, well, there are instructions for making one to teach kids how voice vibrations are carried. Each project is rated according to difficulty, number of people needed to complete the project, (some projects might need some adult supervision), materials needed and complete instructions. In addition to projects, Make This! includes ideas for creating a maker space to work in, and a maker box for keeping supplies in.
All of the projects are designed to encourage kids to use their imagination and to support this each chapter ends with a two-page spread called Solve This! which includes a few real life situations that ask kids to apply what they have just learned, with an all important reminder that there is no right or wrong answer to any of the problems, teaching kids that problem-solving can often have more than correct solution.

Each section of this book has copious full-color photographs of young makers at work and each project includes a What's Going On box and a Think About It box to encourage more critical thinking. Make This! is indeed chockablock with information and fun projects, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Food Fight! A Mouthwatering History of Who Ate What and Why Through the Ages 
by Tanya Steel
National Geographic Kids, 2018, 160 pages, age 10+
Food Fight! is an enticing history of food through the ages. It is divided into 15 chapters and each one covers a different era and various areas of the world: the Prehistoric Era, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Medieval Times, Mongols & the Silk Road, the Renaissance, America Revolts, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, WWI, America's Great Depression, the World at War: Again, the Sixties, and Future World. Each era includes A Bite-Size History that gives an overview of what was going on and what people ate. This is followed by an insert called A Day in the Life that describes what a typical day would have been like for kids; a list of common foods eaten at the time;  Spicing Thing Up, which is really more about the kinds of food eaten according to geographic location than the kinds of spices used, although spices are covered, too; Table Matters, describes how and where food was eaten; Kitchen Tools that were used and how they changed over time; Menus of the Rich & Famished relates what was eaten by kings, queens and others who could afford lavish food over time; and finally a recipe using food items that still around, for example Cave Kid Trail Mix includes nuts, seeds and berries.
I'm a bit of a foodie so I really loved reading this book, and looking at all the different pictures. My Kiddo is also a foodie and she actually wrote down some of the recipes and took them to China with her to try - including the dumpling from the Silk Road recipe. Little did I know that some of my young readers are big food fans, and love watching shows like Master Chef Junior and Top Chef Junior with their older siblings, so this book was a hit all around when I shared it with them.

I should mention that Tanya Steel knows her food facts. She once was an editor at Bon Appétit and Food & Wine, and helped First Lady Michelle Obama get kids interested in healthy foods. Back matter includes a Food Time line, a Recipe Index, a Bibliography and Further Reading and Resources.

Now, normally, I'm not drawn to books called Food Fight! but this one is different. It's a book that should appeal to your foodies and/or history buffs, or really, anyone who eats. And added bonus is the excellent Educator's Guide with great classroom activities available from the publisher HERE  that can be used in conjunction with this book. And so I end with a quote from Julia Child, "Bon Appétit!"

1 comment:

  1. Great suggestions! I'm especially intrigued by Everything and Everywhere. Thanks so much for sharing!


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