Free association rules in this gathering of hundreds of facts about science, technology, and the natural world.
Strung along a single long, fine dotted line that meanders irregularly across each page from first to last, the one- or two-sentence factoids and observations veer from topic to topic but are linked by a key word or concept. The fact, for instance, that a rectangle has four sides leads to the note that there are four species of giraffe, then to the information that a group of giraffes is a “tower,” that the Eiffel Tower gets 60 tons of paint slapped on it every seven years, that cave artists added the mineral mica to their paint, that fluoride is a mineral, and so on and on. As one way to vary the pace of the onslaught of trivia, the line occasionally forks to send readers to a related sequence on another page, and as another, the illustrations mix bright stock photos and Smith’s comical cartoon figures in a broad range of sizes. Readers with attention spans on the short side may indeed find plenty of, as Hale promises, “mind-blowing, wow-worthy and crazily cool” facts, but the arbitrary ordering will quickly lead to informational overload with any sustained exposure. Alas, the “FACTopians” provide no sources beyond a slew of unidentified URLs at the end—to the various resources’ homepages, to boot, so would-be researchers who go to usgs.gov, for example, will be hard-pressed to find out exactly what information was gleaned from there.
A real browsers’ buffet, though everything on the menu is appetizer sized.(Nonfiction. 6-10)