Imagine being able to walk across Niagara Falls on a wire or to lift a wooden platform that’s holding 18 large men.
Extreme human abilities appear to come from a combination of innate body differences and sheer determination and training. Watson discusses nine different types of extreme abilities: strength, flexibility, memory, endurance, meditation, underwater breath-holding, speed, mental math, and balance. Each chapter introduces one or more highly talented people, describes their backgrounds, and offers sidebar explanations with some basic anatomy and physiology, a “Hazard Alert!” that warns against children undertaking some of these feats, and then an “Over to You” that offers some tricks of the trade—not to achieve remarkable results but to improve personal skills. Most of the accompanying color artwork consists of cartoonlike illustrations; a few photographs are also included. Some of the extreme abilities push credibility: The platform with 18 men on it that Louis Cyr apparently lifted in 1895 weighed an astonishing 4,336 pounds. Prahlad Jani, an 82-year-old practitioner of meditation, claims not to have had anything to eat or drink since he was a child. Although few readers will have the necessary talent to replicate these remarkable accomplishments, who doesn’t love a fantastic (but mostly true!) story?
Brief and entertaining. (sources, further reading, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)