A worldwide collection of superior oddities.
For each of the 47 countries featured here, Thuras and Mosco highlight two strange features, be they weather or natural resources, human artifact or moment in history. Accompanied by Ang’s full-color illustrations and a small globe situating the country under examination, Thuras and Mosco have linked each country to the next in line by some common curiosity. Peru’s Nazca Lines lead to Australia’s Marree Man, for instance, and then Australia’s second marvel—Lord Howe Island, where dwells the phasmid, a lobsterlike, hand-long insect—leads to Brazil’s Snake Island, which hosts swarms of golden lanceheads (“They sit in trees and ambush migratory birds, injecting flesh-dissolving venom into them”) but very few visitors. It is debatable whether a kid has to be adventurous to enjoy many of these unusual features, such as the Antikythera mechanism, which is akin to a 2,000-year-old computer, found in Greece or England’s difference engine No. 2, a 200-year-old mathematical calculator, but curiosity is both a must and a given. The tone is consistently upbeat but not melodramatic, giving the oddments a sense of reality rather than fantasy—that you could go and witness these phenomena yourself.
One delectable sampler of wonders, there for the asking. (Nonfiction. 9-13)