Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Read-down 2019: The NonFiction

So I was just looking at my TBR (to be reviewed) pile and said, “WOW. I can’t go into the New Year like this.” So on these last two days of 2019, my friends, I give you some quick-picks to take us out of this year and into the next. Let’s start with Nonfiction, courtesy of National Geographic.

Nerd A to Z, by TJ Resler, (Aug. 2019, NatGeo Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3474-0

Ages 8-12

We did it! The nerds have inherited the earth. It’s cool to be one of us now, and NatGeo Kids’s Nerd A-Z is a desktop reference to the nerdier side of life. Organized alphabetically, information is highlighted with icons, letting readers know about the nerdiest, coolest bits of science, culture, history, technology, geography, and design/engineering. Flow charts help readers figure out what kind of Nerd, Science Scholar, History Hero, Geography Genius, Tech Titan, Design Devote, or Culture Connoisseur they are. It’s all in good fun, loaded with facts and full-color pictures. Want to know where the shipwreck capital of the world is? (Psst… it’s Greece’s Fourni archipelago)? How about finding out about 26 huge map mistakes (like the mythical mountains of Kong, Africa), or the origins of the Jedi? Are Zombies more your thing? There’s a whole spread about them in here, including an FAQ on why vegetarian zombies would eat your brains just as quickly as you could say, “Graiiiiiiins”. There’s a fantastic section with further resources and bibliography. Nerd out with all this info at your fingertips.


The Book of Queens, by Stephanie Warren Drimmer, (Nov. 2019, NatGeo Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3535-8

Ages 8-12

All hail the Queens! From the opening page featuring Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, get ready to enter a world where girls rule – and have, since the beginning. Organized into eight chapters loaded with profiles of women throughout history, culture, science, politics, and entertainment, The Book of Queens profiles over 100 outstanding women, including architect and designer Maya Lin; Empress Cixi, who led China into a period of modernization; media queen Oprah Winfrey; suffragette Jeanette Rankin, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. There are gorgeous color photos, tons of facts and a diverse, richly multicultural group of women (with little fact boxes on impressive men, to share the space). The book challenges readers to think about wearing their own crowns down the line: “Modern-day queens found their own companies, invent new technologies, and take charge of changes they want to see become reality. Nowadays, you don’t have to have royal blood – or wait around for a handsome prince – to rule.”


The Book of Kings, by Caleb Magyar and Stephanie Warren Drimmer, (Nov. 2019, NatGeo Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1426335334

Ages 8-12

The boys get their day in this reference of kings, kicking off with a full-page picture of Henry VIII, no turkey leg in sight. Meet kings from history; revolutionary leaders and legendary heroes; stars of the silver screen and stage; science, media, and industry. You’ll see Lin-Manuel Miranda, who made Alexander Hamilton the most popular Founding Father; Kwame Alexander, and Langston Hughes, kings of the written word; and Babe Ruth, the “Sultan of Swat”. There’s some equal respect paid to the ladies, with “Commanding Queens” callout boxes. Learn about famous crowns and swords, discover different types of armor through the centuries, and read about how two kids from Cleveland created one of the greatest superheroes of all time: Superman. Fictional kings, like Aragorn (Lord of the Rings) and T’Challa (Black Panther) have their moment here, as do giants of science, like Isaac Newton and Carl Sagan. A final word to boys challenges them to think about wearing their own crowns: “Today, there are many different kinds of kings: kings who develop lifesaving technology, kings who write plays that make us laugh and cry, kings who find something they don’t like about the world and do everything they can to change it for the better.”

Both The Book of Kings and The Book of Queens are great desktop references for you to have handy, and just fun reading for kids.


Don’t Read This Book Before Dinner, by Anna Claybourne, (July 2019, NatGeo Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3451-1

Ages 8-12

Ah, the gross-out factor. The kids at my library (and my home) love the grossest humor, shrieking with delight and horror at facts and picture of boogers, poop, bugs, you name it. NatGeo, with their fingers on the pulse of all things kid, has answered the call with Don’t Read This Book Before Dinner: Revoltingly True Tales of Foul Food, Icky Animals, Horrible History, and More, a tome loaded with the grossest stories, quizzes, photos, and facts that you’ll ever want to know about. A “Yuck-o-Meter” lets readers know exactly how gross the territory is: Eww, Gross, Nasty, or Disgusting, and a content warning gives the heads-up to readers with gentler sensibilities and stomachs can make the choice on whether or not to continue. There are stories about the grossest toilets in history; facts about spit; a section dedicated to cockroaches that I just skipped right the heck by; a section on weasel butts, and a spotlight on a Taiwanese toilet cafe that serves poop-shaped ice cream. Good lord.

Need I say it? Kids love it.

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Tween Reads

Two stocking stuffers from NatGeo Kids: Brain Candy and Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

NatGeo Kids has two digest-sized, chunky little books loaded with fun facts and pictures that will be perfect for a stocking stuffer or last-minute gift!


Brain Candy: Seriously Sweet Facts to Satisfy Your Curiosity, by National Geographic,
(Oct. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 9781426334375
Ages 7-13

Brain Candy is so much fun because it’s loaded with facts, but it also connects facts together. Each spread presents one big fact – “A million is a lot”, for instance – and then connects other facts to that main fact: “A million days ago, the first Olympics were taking place in Ancient Greece”; “A million ants weight as much as one human”; “If you live a million hours, you will be 114 years old”. Taste buds, birthdays, pizza, animals, and trash are only a few of the subjects covered in this jam-packed book that will give kids endless things to think about, and tons of fun facts to spout off during dinner time. These little digest-sized books are great to stick in your bag, and they’re good for hours of entertainment. My second grader has a growing collection of them that he loves; he’ll just slip one off his shelf, curl up on the couch, and start reading them, because the facts are presented in bright, bold color and they’re easily read. Fun fact: One of my library kids once stood next to me with a NatGeo Kids joke book and read jokes to me for 30 minutes. He loved it, I had a good laugh, and other kids immediately wanted in on where he found the book. Reading is contagious!


Surprising Stories About Everyday Stuff, by Stephanie Warren Drimmer,
(Sept. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9781426335297
Ages 7-13

Ever wonder how blue jeans became so popular? Or where soap came from? Surprising Stories is all about how things we use everyday found their ways into our homes and our lives. Organized into 10 chapters, readers can see where the most popular toys, food, fashion, tools, household objects, holidays, and more came to be. Each chapter has a spotlight on fads throughout the years, and there are loads of callouts with even more quick facts. You know that Slinky jingle? It’s the longest-running jingle in the history of TV advertising. Cowboy boots have heels for guys and gals alike, because those heels keep a cowpoke’s foot from slipping through the stirrups. Once again, NatGeo Kids creates a quick-take book loaded with absolute fun.


Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

The truth about cats and dogs (and gerbils, birds, fish, and other pets…)

Nat Geo Kids is all about the pets these days: they’ve just released Doggy Defenders, a series of books on working dogs, and they’ve also put out some great desk references about cats, dogs, and an Big Book to get younger readers excited about the world of animal companionship. Here’s a glimpse at some of the books out.

Cat Science Unleashed: Fun Activities to Do With Your Feline Friend, by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen/Photos by Matthew Rakola, (Aug. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3441-2

Ages 7-12

A companion to last year’s Dog Science Unleashed, Cat Science Unleashed is all about the cats, with a glimpse into cat biology and physiology, cat facts, and cat-tivities to engage the scientists in your life. Eleven kid scientists have tested their cats – you’ll meet them on a spread in the book – and invite readers to join them in discovering how cats see at night and how to discover their favorite smells. Activities include building a hiding spot for your cat’s toys (other than my living room floor? Have to get my kid on that) and making toys to test your kitty’s stalking prowess. There’s a glossary and list of further resources at the end A fun volume, and with a new science fair season on the horizon, this could be a fun way to give your kiddos’ cats the spotlight at school in addition to home.

Cat Breed Guide: A Complete Reference to Your Purr-Fect Best Friend, by Stephanie Warren Drimmer & Dr. Gary Weitzman, DVM, (Sept. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3439-9-

Ages 8+

This is a compact, thorough desk reference to cats, perfect for an animal lover, cat fan, and anyone either writing a report about felines or researching a new pet. The guide provides a look at feline history, with a cat family tree, a history of cats and how domesticated cats became household constants, even cat-related superstitions and folktales. There are profiles on more than 60 cat breeds, organized by short hair and long hair breeds, and each profile offers a quick “cat stats” box that provides notes on country of origin, size, coat, grooming, and “catitude”. There are gorgeous photos, fun facts, and general adorableness throughout, plus a section on cat-related careers, a glossary, and further resources. I’m always trying to keep my domestic animals/pets books stocked, so this one will be a nice add to my shelves.


Dog Breed Guide: A Complete Reference to Your Best Friend Fur-Ever, by TJ Reser & Dr. Gary Weitzman, DVM, (Sept. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3445-0

Ages 8+

A companion desk reference to the Cat Breed Guide, Dr. Weitzman and TJ Reser team up to give readers a comprehensive guide to canines, from their wolfish origins to today’s modern breeds. Organized into 10 sections, dog profiles include full-color, squeal-worthy photos and stats-at-a-glance: country of origin, height, weight, coat, grooming, exercise needs, and K-9 qualities. There are sections on show dogs, canine senses, and how to talk to your dog, and a section on adopting and training a puppy. There’s a glossary and more resources.

Together, the Dog and Cat Breed Guides provide a handy reference for pet and animal lovers.


Little Kids First Big Book of Pets, by Catherine D. Hughes, (July 2019, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3470-2

Ages 4-8

I love the NatGeo Kids Little Kids First Big Book series! There are 17 books in the series now, and they’re great for pre-readers to look through, while emerging readers can more confidently navigate the pages. Words are bold, the pictures are big and bright, and there’s tons of fun facts, quizzes, and info to be found. The First Big Book of Pets is all about our favorite companions, from dogs and cats to birds, reptiles, fish, mice… you name it. Interactive questions throughout the book prompt discussion, games at the end of every chapter help reinforce concepts and give librarians like me an excuse to have fun, pet-related programming, and fact boxes give kids info at-a-glance about different pets. If you know a kiddo who wants a pet, but isn’t quite decided on what pet to get, hand them this guide – it’s geared toward educating kids about different pets’ needs, and our responsibilities to animals once we adopt them. A section for parents includes a recipe for baking dog biscuits, pet jokes and tips and ideas to engage kids about pets. There’s a glossary and list of additional resources. The Little Kids First Big Books are really popular with my library kids, so this one is another win for my shelves.

Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Teen, Tween Reads

Last Minute Shopping? No worries, find a bookstore!

I saw a piece on the news today that said today – December 23rd – is the second biggest holiday shopping day of the year.


If you still have kids and teens on your shopping list, I humbly offer a few more suggestions to make the season bright.

Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, by Carrie Ann DiRisio and Broody McHottiepants/Illustrated by Linnea Gear,
(Oct. 2017, Sky Pony Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781510726666

Recommended for readers 13-17

You know him. You may have loved him. He’s the EveryBroody – that dark, brooding bad boy main character that shows up in darned near every YA novel. He’s got a deep, dark history; he has trust issues; he may be an intergalactic prince, a scoundrel smuggler, or… dare I say? a sparkly vampire. Here, we get the scoop – straight from the Broody’s mouth – on what it’s like to be a Brooding YA Hero. It’s a writing guide with a wink and a nudge to YA tropes, with some straight talk – in the form of nemesis Mean Girl Blondi DeMeani – about smashing the patriarchy and recognizing the value of diverse characters. Give this to your fanfic writer, your feminists, and anyone who loved Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie. And if you’re not already following the @broodingYAhero account on Twitter, you are doing yourself a disservice.


Hey, Baby! A Collection of Pictures, Poems, and Stories from Nature’s Nursery, by Stephanie Drimmer,
(Nov. 2017, National Geographic Kids), $24.99, ISBN: 978-1426329319

Recommended for ages 4-12 and beyond

It’s an entire book of baby animal pictures. The cutest, funniest, littlest baby animals. This is a win-win for everyone! Added to the pictures are the sweetest companion folktales, stories, and poems, to make this a great gift for new moms and moms-to-be, kids who love their baby animals, and middle-aged librarians who follow accounts like @emergencykittens and @fluffsociety on Twitter. Add a copy of NatGeo’s Animal Ark, for more beautiful photos and poetry by Newbery award winner Kwame Alexander.


A World of Cookies for Santa, by M.E. Furman/Illustrated by Susan Gal,
(Oct. 2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt),$16.99, ISBN: 9780544226203

Recommended for readers 7-10

Take a tasty sleigh ride around the world and find out how children across the globe celebrate Christmas, from the different names Santa goes by (Papai Noel, Father Christmas, Christmas Baba, to name a few) to the tasty treats left out for Santa and his reindeer to enjoy on their journey. Try your hand at a multicultural Christmas with nine recipes for holiday cookies, included at the end! Pair with a copy of Clement Moore’s classic The Night Before Christmas and add a few cookies.


Top Elf, by Caleb Zane Huett, (Sept. 2017, Scholastic Press),
$14.99, ISBN: 978-1-338-05212-1

Recommended for readers 9-12

Santa’s ready to pass on the Big Red Suit. The call to competition goes out across the North Pole, and Ollie the Elf decides to go for it. Thing is, he’s up against Santa’s kids, a bullying elf named Buzz, Ramp, who swears he’s a kid, but looks and smells suspiciously grown-up, and even his best friend, Celia. How’s Ollie going to prove he’s the Top Elf for the job? This middle grade story is pure Christmas fun and adventure with a touch of Christmas magic. Stick this in a stocking for readers who love a good giggle, and add a couple of candy canes and some hot cocoa mix – maybe with a Minecraft or Lego mug. 


Ultimate Dinopedia, Second Edition, by “Dino” Don Lessem/Illustrated by Franco Tempesta,
(Oct. 2017, National Geographic Kids), $24.99, ISBN: 978-1426329050

Recommended for readers 8-13

It’s the ULTIMATE dinosaur encyclopedia! This updated edition is one of the most comprehensive dinosaur references going, with profiles on favorite dinos like the T-Rex and Velociratpr, to new finds like the Anzu, Kosmoceratops, and Yi. There are maps, comparison renderings to show kids how they stack up against different dinos, and descriptions of dino diets, geographic areas, and eras. There are over 600 dinosaurs in this volume, with profiles for 10 newly discovered dinos, and a comprehensive dino dictionary. Full-color illustrations from dinosaur artist Franco Tempesta come right off the page – look at that T-Rex on the cover! – and “Dino” Don Lessem – a world-renowned dinosaur presenter who also happened to be the dinosaur adviser for the first Jurassic Park movie – writes in a language that respects, but never speaks down, to readers. Kids love dinos. They’ll love this book. Tuck a tube of dino toys in the stocking and call it a holiday.


The Witch Boy, by Molly Ostertag, (Oct. 2017, Scholastic Graphix),
$12.99, ISBN: 978-1-338-08951-6

Recommended for readers 8-13

Aster is a 13-year-old, raised in a society of of supernatural beings. The girls are raised to be witches, the boys, to be shapeshifters. That’s the way it is, and anyone who falls outside those lines faces exile. Aster waits for his ability to shift to kick in, but is fascinated by magic, despite the disciplinary action and ridicule he faces. Aster befriends a non-magic neighbor named Charlotte, who goes by Charlie, who has her own frustrations with gender lines at her school; neither can figure out what the big deal is, saying, “You should just be allowed to do it!” Charlie discovers Aster’s magic abilities, and tries encouraging him to continue practicing magic; Aster will need that support when a mysterious force threatens his community; he may be the only one able to save them. A brilliant story about smashing gender expectations, The Witch Boy is a brilliant, compelling story about finding one’s place and speaks volumes to every kid out there who feels, at some point, like she or he doesn’t fit in. Molly Ostertag is the writer/artist on Shattered Warrior and the webcomic Strong Female Protagonist. The Witch Boy has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal, and Fox Animation has feature film rights. Bundle this one up with Victoria Jamieson’s All’s Faire in Middle School.


Bet You Didn’t Know!, by National Geographic Kids, (Aug. 2017, National Geographic Kids),
$19.99, ISBN: 978-1426328374

Recommended for readers 8-13

Kids love fact books; when they’re accompanied by amazing photos and include facts like, “A storm on Neptune was a wide as THE ENTIRE EARTH”, “Chewing gum can make your heart beat faster”, or “The Bahamas once had an undersea post office”, this becomes GOLD. Pair this one with NatGeo’s Weird But True Christmas, and you’re set.


The World of the Bible: Biblical Stories and the Archaeology Behind Them, by Jill Rubalcaba,
(Nov. 2017, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1426328817

Recommended for readers 9-13

More than a book of Bible stories, The World of the Bible is a great reference for budding history buffs and archaeologists, going deeper into the text to study the time periods and geographic locations where these stories took place, to learn more about human history. Stories like Moses and the Ten Commandments and the Garden of Eden get a closer look, accompanied by classic paintings, photos, and illustrations of the lands where the events in the Bible took shape. Give to your budding young Indiana Jones or Lara Croft.


1,000 Facts About the White House, by Sarah Wassner Flynn, (Sept. 2017, National Geographic Kids),
$14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-2873-2

Recommended for readers 8-13

Wild and crazy facts about the most famous house in America: The White House. Learn about White House ghosts, events like the Easter Egg Roll, and presidential pets. Check out photos of the interiors and exteriors of the White House and grounds, and view some of the history-making moments that took place there. Learn about the different people who live and work there, those who keep it safe, and those who built it. There are groups of fun lists, like 25 Rooms That Rock, and there are loads of cutouts and info bits throughout. It’s a fun reference on American History for history fans. Pair with a copy of Weird But True! US Presidents and you’re set.

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Preschool Reads, Teen, Toddler Reads, Tween Reads

Holiday Shopping: Something for Every Reader!

The days are getting closer! Get to your nearest bookstore (or order online, if you can swing the express shipping) and fill your basket with some of these goodies for the readers you love.

Edited to add: Please excuse the terrible formatting! It looked fine when I previewed this post last night, but things have gone wonky. I’m still learning HTML, so I hope this doesn’t turn anyone off the post.

what-does-kitten-hearWhat Does Kitten Hear? A Big Book of Animal Sounds, by Lizelot Versteeg, (Nov. 2016, Clavis), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1605372525

Recommended for ages 2-4

This big board book is an adorable combination of seek and find, counting, and name that sound. A kitten wanders through a farm, city, zoo, beach, the woods, a park, and a house. Every spread is a new part of Kitten’s world, complete with sights and sounds to explore. Questions prompt readers and their favorite cuddly grownups to look identify the sounds kitten hears, and count the different objects to be found. Additional questions throughout each spread prompt discussion on about other things in the book: compare hot air balloons to see which flies higher; what squirrels eat versus what blackbirds eat. Toddlers and early preschoolers will love this book – I’m lucky I got my copy away from my preschooler long enough to write this piece.


artists-alphabetAn Artist’s Alphabet, by Norman Messenger, (Sept. 2016, Candlewick Press), $$17.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-8123-4

Recommended for ages 2+

This ain’t your usual ABCedary. Artist Norman Messenger has created beautiful watercolor and pencil artwork to demonstrate upper- and lower-case letters in the alphabet. Kids will connect with some right away – the acrobats demonstrating the letter A, the eels for the letter E – and some will take some thought. Bold, black upper- and lower-case letters in a lined box on each page will help developing writers get an idea of scale for their letters. The only thing that would have made this perfect for me would have been a key to the drawings at the end of the book, because there are a few I’m still working out. It’s a stunning art book for kids of all ages.


doll-peopleThe Doll People’s Christmas, by Ann L. Martin and Laura Godwin/Illustrated by Brett Helquist, (Sept. 2016, Disney/Hyperion), $17.99, ISBN: 9781484723395

Recommended for ages 4-7

This latest Doll People book is a picture book! It’s Christmas at the Palmer family residence, and Annabelle Doll is excited to share the holiday with her best friend, Tiffany. After all, she knows what makes Christmas perfect! But nothing is perfect, and sure enough, things start going wrong. Annabelle is convinced that Christmas is ruined, but she learns that being surrounded by family and friends makes Christmas – even Christmases that aren’t what you expect – perfect. You don’t need to be familiar with the Doll People series to enjoy this story; it’s a great way to introduce the characters to new readers.


book-of-heroesbook-of-heroinesThe Book of Heroes: Tales of History’s Most Daring Dudes, by Crispin Boyer, (Nov. 2016, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-2553-3
The Book of Heroines: Tales of History’s Gutsiest Gals, by Stephanie Warren Drimmer, (Nov. 2016, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-2557-1

Recommended for ages 8-13

Guys and girls alike will love these books, each including over 100 figures from history, fiction, and entertainment. There are world leaders, athletes, gods and goddesses, pioneers for human rights, and animals here, offering something for everyone. One eyebrow raise goes to Wonder Woman, whose clothing and accessories are highlighted in the Heroines book, while a generic superhero in the Heroes version is the backdrop for “superpowered” real people (Usain Bolt and his superspeed, a blind teen who taught himself to “see” using echolocation). The cartoon hero’s superpowers of invincibility, speed, heightened senses and strength get the highlight here, thanks to these gifted individuals, but why are we concentrating on what Wonder Woman is wearing? She can fly (even without her invisible plane), she’s super strong, and she’s got superior fighting ability. Other than that? Love these books, and love the recent spate of women in history books that have come out this year, like Rejected Princesses, Frontier Grit, and Wonder Women.

dungeonologyDungeonology, by Matt Forbeck,, (Oct. 2016, Candlewick Press), $24.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-9353-4

Recommended for ages 10+

This book is AMAZING. If you have fantasy roleplaying gamers in your life, this is the perfect gift for them. If they want to game, but have just been reading Tolkien and Dungeons & Dragons books, get them this book plus the D&D basic board game. Dungeonology takes readers, led by Volo the Wizard, on a journey through the Forgotten Realms universe. See basic Dungeonology equipment, fold out a giant map of the Sword Coast; check out a novice’s spell book (Magic Missile is there, fellow D&D fans), and check out all sorts of magic items. There is so much to explore in this book; pull-out books, pages that unfold to share their secrets, and a dragon waiting for you at the end of the book, if you play your cards right (and tilt the book). This is THE gift for your gamers, trust me on this.I hope you find enough here to make everyone’s holidays bright. Everything is available right now!

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Give your brain a workout with NatGeo Kids’ MASTERMIND!

mastermindMastermind, by Stephanie Warren Drimmer/Puzzles by Julie K. Cohen, (May 2016, NatGeo Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-2110-8

Recommended for ages 8-12

Loaded with over 100 games, tests, and puzzles designed to “unleash your inner genius,” Mastermind is huge fun – and you learn stuff, too.

Guided through the book by cartoon characters Ima Genius and her canine sidekick Astro, Mastermind is all about the brain: each section is devoted to a different part of our brains and features sections like How it Works, where readers are guided through a step by step process of each part of the brain makes operations like sight, muscle movement, smell, and memory happen; fun facts and wild photos help break it all down for readers. Time Trials challenge readers to solve puzzles while timing themselves, and a final quiz in each chapter, called Test Your S.M.A.R.T.S. (Superior Mental Acuity and Rationality Testing System), pop up in each section, so budding geniuses can witness themselves becoming smarter with each section. A fun Mastermind Meter lets you track the progression of your genius through the book.

I had a great time reading and playing the games in Mastermind. The facts and real-life stories are interesting and fun, and there’s a ton of information to be learned here. Each section of the book looks at a different part of the brain and how we use them, from our senses, to identifying sounds, to mental map making and memory. Beginning with a maze through a highlighted part of the brain (to get your brains ready, naturally), readers learn how animals use their brains for similar purposes, and Weird Science introduces us to people living with brain issues that make them see things differently; for instance, hemospatial neglect causes someone to ignore things on one side – imagine only shaving half your face?

This will be destroyed in circ, because kids are meant to write in this book, but it won’t stop me from adding it as a great birthday or holiday gift to a few budding geniuses on my list. There are tons of ideas in this book for teachers and librarians, though; you can get the kids fired up with your own timed code challenges or have them figure out which genius they gel best with. The Mastermind website offers two downloadable puzzles, and a genius personality quiz kids can take online. All in all, Mastermind provides some fun and makes you think, which is really what learning should be all about.