My Weird School Fast Facts: Geography, by Dan Gutman/Illustrated by Jim Paillot, (June 2016, HarperCollins), $5.99, ISBN: 9780062306173
Recommended for ages 8-12
AJ and Andrea from the hugely popular My Weird School series are here to stuff your heads full of fun facts! The Fast Facts series is just that: loads of factoids, split into subject areas, narrated by My Weird School characters AJ, the attention-loving goof-off, and Andrea, who’s going to run the country one day.
Fast Facts: Geography covers the definition of geography, and starts out big: like, Planet Earth big, with facts about the earth’s rotation and its “imaginary lines”: its axis, the equator, and the international date line. Next, AJ and Andrea tackle the continents; bodies of water; mountains, deserts, and forests; the fifty United States; and finally, AJ’s favorite topic, natural disasters. Each fact is bulleted by a picture of AJ or Andrea, so you can tell who’s talking to you, and the dialogue is loaded with back and forth bantering between the two characters. There are black and white photos and line drawings throughout the book to add to the reader’s interest.
My Weird School Fast Facts: Sports, by Dan Gutman/Illustrated by Jim Paillot, (June 2016, HarperCollins), $5.99, ISBN: 9780062306173
Recommended for ages 8-12
Next up, we have Fast Facts: Sports, with chapters devoted to the biggies: baseball, football, soccer, basketball, hockey, golf, and auto racing. Other chapters include facts about speed records; other sports, like skating, skiing, bowling, and tennis; the Olympics, and a wrap-up of other weird sports facts. You want to know why umpires have to wear black underwear? The answer’s in here. Like Fast Facts: Geography, Fast Facts: Sports is loaded with photos, statistics and fun facts, and black and white illustrations by My Weird School illustrator Jim Paillot.
The Fast Facts books are fun. The Sports books will be popular with kids who are fans of the series or just sports fans in general; it’s a good companion book for kids who love wacky facts and ephemera. The Geography book is a good companion book that you can booktalk when kids come in with a geography project – it’s a companion book, an additional book, but the My Weird School brand will make sure it gets read, and maybe, just maybe, inspire a reader to explore an interesting topic.
Kids love My Weird School and all its offshoots. These are the second and third books in a nonfiction series (the first, My Weird Writing Tips, was published in 2013). Having some nonfiction feature popular characters hopefully spikes some interest.
Dan Gutman is a prolific children’s author, with My Weird School and The Genius Files being two of his hugely popular book series. He’s got a great author website where you can find out about all of his book, read excerpts, download study guides, watch book trailers, and read about ways that kids can change the world.
Illustrator Jim Paillot has illustrated for School Library Journal, Weekly Reader, Boys Life, and many other children’s books. He has a great website with funny comics for kids, illustrations, samples of his work, and a shop where you can buy prints of his artwork.