The Handy Answer Book for Kids (and Parents), Second Edition by Gina Misiroglu
Visible Ink Press
291 pages, incl. index and additional resources
What do you do when your child asks you if it really rains cats and dogs and you've got a sneaking suspicion you've heard something about that, but you're not sure . . . it rained frogs? In France? What if he or she (the young critter who won't stop asking questions) asks you about rainbows or what causes lightning and you kind of know the answers to how they occur but you're not sure how to put it because it's not like you were all that great at science. Or, he asks how a light bulb works or why pigs are dirty or who built the Brooklyn Bridge?
The Handy Answer Book for Kids doesn't contain all the answers, of course, but it's certainly a great starting point for the parent of a curious child or the little nerdy kid who can't get enough of factoids. That kid might have been me, at one point. I read a set of children's encyclopedias, one boring summer, and would have gobbled this book down in nothing flat.
The Handy Answer Book for Kids is divided into the following sections:
Planet Earth and Our Moon
Creatures Big and Small
People Around the World
Politics and Government
Math, Measurement and Time
All About My Body, and
There are subheadings in the Table of Contents (so you can look to see that weather falls under the "Planet Earth and Our Moon" heading) and an index to lead you to specific topics such as lightning or Pluto . . . which I cannot mention without protesting its demotion. Okay, there. Got that out of the way. Pluto brings to mind the fact that there are some little things that might annoy the intensely curious. For example, the author discusses the fact that Pluto is now considered a "planetoid" rather than a "planet" but there is no glossary and "planetoid" is not defined. That's what your dictionary is for, I suppose.
Lisa Roe sent me this book for review and we had a discussion about the final chapter, Daily Life, which includes "tough questions" about such topics as divorce, death, whether or not there is a God or a heaven . . . questions that have answers with which you might strongly disagree. Our conclusion was that the book is really a great jumping-off point for conversing about the hard topics with your child. I particularly recommend reading the final chapter, even if you have an older child you want to hand it to, for the sake of discussion -- simply because I think most people would desire to tell their child, "This is or isn't what we believe" rather than let a book define something so personal.
Many thanks to Lisa for the review copy! This is the last book review for Children's Day. Next up will be a giveaway post. But, first I have to pick up my son and take the cat to the vet. I probably ought to give you a few hours to recover from being slammed by 4 posts in a row, anyway.
Incidentally, I'd say The Handy Answer Book for Kids is above average as question/answer books go and definitely a great gift-giving idea for the little nerd/geek in your life. Also, for those who may object to my usage of the word "nerd", let me just tell you what I've always told my own sons. Bill Gates = Nerd/Geek = Richest Man on Planet. "Nerdhood" is therefore something to aspire to or be proud of. So there. Nerds unite!
We now return to our regularly scheduled programming (which, if my dreams come true, I hope will at some point contain a nap).