A bodacious wellspring of random knowledge.

It’s a sucker’s “bet” if ever there was one, as every page of this brightly illustrated browser’s delight features a multiplicity of mind-boggling facts.

Cued up in groups of 10 per spread (with occasional variations) beneath about 70 topical rubrics, pithy gosh-wow–isms in boldface type and emphatic colors focus mainly on the natural world with excursions into history, holidays, and curious cultural practices. Sharp photos and graphic images—mostly of animals, with human figures a rare but diverse minority—in a range of sizes are treats for the eyes. So too are claims that rats can’t throw up, raw termites taste like pineapple, “One cyclops from Greek mythology liked to snack on humans,” and hundreds of other did-you-knows to absorbent young brains. Wordier excursions to, for instance, visit Petra and Machu Picchu or to explain the differences between “affect” and “effect” or macarons and macaroons offer changes of pace, but the whole outing is really tailor-made for dipping and flipping at random. And, wild as some entries seem, there aren’t any patent absurdities, even when enthusiasm trumps precise language and notwithstanding a breezy assurance standing in for actual source citations that everything here is “carefully researched.”

A bodacious wellspring of random knowledge. (index) (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2837-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017



This genuinely clever math book uses rhyming couplets and riddles, as well as visual cues to help the reader find new ways to group numbers for quick counting. It’s a return to number sets, with none of those boring parentheses and <>signs. Here the rhyme gives a clue to the new ways of grouping numbers. For example: “Mama mia, pizza pie, / How many mushrooms do you spy? / Please don’t count them, it’s too slow, / This hot pie was made to go! / Let me give you some advice, / Just do half and count it twice.” A quick look at the pizza, and the reader can see each slice has the same number of mushrooms. Count by threes for half the pie, and double it. Each rhyme is given a double-page spread. The extra-large, brightly colored images leap off the page but never distract from the author’s intent. Some riddles are very challenging, but the author provides all the solutions in the back. Once the reader has seen the answers, the strategy is obvious and can be applied to other situations. Great fun for math enthusiasts and creative thinkers, this might also teach adults some new tricks. A winning addition. (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-21033-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000


Though usually cast as the trickster, Coyote is more victim than victimizer, making this a nice complement to other Coyote...

Two republished tales by a Greco-Cherokee author feature both folkloric and modern elements as well as new illustrations.

One of the two has never been offered south of the (Canadian) border. In “Coyote Sings to the Moon,” the doo-wop hymn sung nightly by Old Woman and all the animals except tone-deaf Coyote isn’t enough to keep Moon from hiding out at the bottom of the lake—until she is finally driven forth by Coyote’s awful wailing. She has been trying to return to the lake ever since, but that piercing howl keeps her in the sky. In “Coyote’s New Suit” he is schooled in trickery by Raven, who convinces him to steal the pelts of all the other animals while they’re bathing, sends the bare animals to take clothes from the humans’ clothesline, and then sets the stage for a ruckus by suggesting that Coyote could make space in his overcrowded closet by having a yard sale. No violence ensues, but from then to now humans and animals have not spoken to one another. In Eggenschwiler’s monochrome scenes Coyote and the rest stand on hind legs and (when stripped bare) sport human limbs. Old Woman might be Native American; the only other completely human figure is a pale-skinned girl.

Though usually cast as the trickster, Coyote is more victim than victimizer, making this a nice complement to other Coyote tales. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-833-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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