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.
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.
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 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.
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.