Saturday 4 December 2010

Children's Book review : 8000 Things You should Know

Mum Knows Best ! That must be one of the most irritating and frustrating expressions you can possibly hear when you're on the verge of becoming a semi-independent, moody teen ! Trust me, I should know, I was one ! And that's pretty much where 9-year-old Sophie is right now. She wants to know best or at least as well as everyone else but unfortunately, she doesn't (yet). I think this is one of the main reasons why she absolutely hoovers up non-fiction books full of interesting and little-known facts. She loves nothing more than asking me impossible questions like "Do you know what the average life span of a cuttlefish is ?" or "How many light years away from Earth is the Moon?" then gleefully telling me the answer (book in hand) when I tell her I have no idea ! Not only is it a great way for her to feel she's catching up the grown-ups in the "who knows best ?" stakes, it's also a great way to get her curious about and  interested in all manner of things, ranging from classic art and mythology to the natural world.

Well, 8000 Things You should Know is right up her street ! She's been quizzing me mercilessly and, faced with my incessant inability to answer even one of the questions correctly, she has now given up asking and just comes out and tells me her latest fascinating finds of the day instead ! The blurb explains, "This incredible reference resource covers eight subject areas and provides 8000 bulleted facts. There are 800 panels, each containing an illustration and ten key facts, star facts and news flashes. There are no long passages of text - just facts."

That last point is vital. Sophie is an avid reader, of both fiction and non-fiction, but I know a lot of her friends and classmates hate reading. They supposedly find it boring but personally, I think that modern kids in the era of instant gratification just don't have the patience to sit down and trawl through a few pages of text until they get to the exciting bits. Well, you'd only need the memory and attention span of a goldfish to dip into this book and find a fascinating fact to impress your friends with !

Sophie's favourite fact was "If all the muscles in your body pulled together, they would be strong enough to lift a bus" ! She was vaguely worried to learn that "Every 50 million years, the Earth is hit by an asteroid measuring more than 10km in width" - but this inspired her to get online (under my supervision - I wasn't sure what she'd find if she started looking up "Big Bang" !) and find out about asteroids and comets and the Milky Way.

The book is laid out in such a way as to constantly throw up random fascinating facts (in the "star facts") while you search out nuggets of information in a specific theme, using the iconic running heads specially designed to aid navigation. There are 800 subject panels, each with ten bulleted facts, which are accompanied by detailed illustrations, diagrams and photographs that really help kids understand some pretty complex concepts.

So who knows best ? Well, on the subject of random fascinating facts, definitely Sophie after reading this book !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £14.99 - but only £4.99 at Kids IQ Books

Publisher: Miles Kelly Publishing Ltd
Paperback: 512 pages
ISBN: 9781842368046
Published: 2009
Age Range: 8+
Dimensions: 29.7 x 22.8 cm

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  1. Thanks for this review, this sounds like something mt son would like. He loves books with facts and info, a typical boy when it comes to reading habits.

  2. Thanks for your review. I have a 10 year old like that a semi teeneager. This book would be ideal for her.

  3. This is a great and intriguing review. I recently bought the book/audio combo of Jazz Fly 2: The Jungle Pachanga by Matthew Gollub, but it seems as though one book isn't enough for her.

  4. This sounds like just the sort of thing my son would enjoy - he's always coming out with question 'impossible' - this would be perfect.

  5. Sounds like all our kids have inherited the curious/incessant questioning gene !! It's great she's so into learning but can get annoying at times !!


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