From how a hair dryer works to how cheese, chocolate, and ice cream are made, Esbaum offers simple answers to over 50 common questions.
Some of her answers are a little too simple: it’s hard to see any real difference between the two types of doorbells she describes, not quite right to characterize what the taste buds sense as “sweet, salty, bitter, sour, or just plain yucky,” and dead wrong to claim that when a rocket “is high enough to have escaped Earth’s gravity it has reached space.” Moreover, though grouped into six broad categories such as “Food” and “The Animal Kingdom,” within their rubrics, the questions and their arrangement both feel entirely arbitrary. Still, the big, square format and many bright color photos of animals, objects, and young people at work and play will encourage extended browsing. Each section includes one or more simple activities, such as a yummy demonstration of tectonic mountain-building using moistened graham crackers over a bed of whipped cream, and also a pattern recognition game that builds on previously presented facts.
A scattershot assortment, easy on the eyes if only fitfully valuable for giving young inquiring minds the straight dope. (bibliography, index, parent tips) (Nonfiction. 6-8)