Date released: July 2011
Act now and save your child hours in line waiting to meet with their Career Counsellor – with just a single copy of 501 Fun Facts they will marvel at the myriad of job opportunities in this wonderful world of ours; I mean, who wouldn’t want an Avian Vomitologist in the family? While 501 Fun Facts isn’t really the kind of book you would expect your child to plough through from cover to cover (it would be a lot to absorb in a few sittings), it’s the perfect thing to have laying about in their bedroom (or classroom) to randomly dive into for anything from unenviable career advice to edible insects or most famous UFO sightings. Certainly a great conversation starter!
The spacious, colourful and almost comic-like layout is well suited to the target audience. And while the portrayal of some of the facts might not quite stand up to full adult scrutiny (excuse me while I lock my inner nerdy scientist back in its box), it is worth remembering the target audience – for whom the level of detail is quite appropriate. Covering such a diverse range of topics (popular, funny, icky and plain weird) there is bound to be something in there for every child. There are even enough useful facts (eg regarding history, science, language etc) for parents to want their kids to read it too.
In case you’re a try-before-you-buy kind of person, let’s see if I can’t help you out. Be warned though, the only thing drier than the Australian sense of humour is the Atacama Desert. Have you ever wasted valuable hours of lesson time trying to work out whether your wrinkly, bespectacled English teacher is closer to Cretaceous or Cambrian? Well in 501 Fun Facts you’ll find the answer. Ever wanted to know when the biggest, baddest pirates sailed the seven seas? Or how many of them were girls? Then this is your book. Next time you plan to run away from home, bear in mind that it takes 21 pairs of shoes to walk around the world (and, um, about 4 years). Despite what your Grandpa told you, Waxing Gibbous has absolutely nothing to do with monkey hair removal – in this book you will find the truth. And while you are staring at your Grandpa, and his scarily fluffy ears, bear in mind that the longest recorded ear hair was 18.1 cm!!! Ever felt like you could handle a little more authority? Well 501 Fun facts will tell you how many kids have ruled empires before they turned 10 … and you couldn’t count them all with both hands! Personally I’d always wondered why Parliament has passed so many Bills – now I know it must have something to do with the fact that 8 of our past 25 Governors General have been called William. This little book is also where you’ll find out what started both World Wars – neither of which, despite what you might think, can be attributed to kids being forced to eat Brussels Sprouts (which, if you had a copy of 501 Fun Facts, you would realise kids have been turning their noses up at since 1587). If you still think they taste disgusting, you could always try Cow Brain Tacos, or fried tarantulas – some people love them! In this shiny blue book they even go as far as listing how many civilizations have been lost, as opposed to being embarrassingly misplaced. Now if it was towns we were trying to lose, I think I’d start with Humpybong and Watanobbi, but I’ll let you make your own choice from the extensive list of weird Australian place names. No doubt some of you would sleep a lot better at night knowing the name of the real castle where Count Dracula lives and, speaking of castles, would you believe me if I said the one with which you are probably most familiar is called Neuschwanstein? If you thought that name was bad though, the longest place name in the world actually has 163 letters in it. But there’s not enough space here to write it so you’ll just have to buy the book! Just one more before I go – if you’ve ever had a hankering to yell out ‘You Beauty!’ at the end of the working week, it is probably all part of a subconscious prayer to Freya, the Norse goddess of Beauty, after whom Friday was named. Happy reading!
A Bug in a Book review by Scott Chambers.