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Funky Facts for Frivolous Fun

Light summer reading goes well with light meals, light suntan and plain old light. National Geographic shows the way with Weird But True! 3: 300 Outrageous Facts ($6.95, ages 9-12), featuring gems such as “astronauts drink recycled urine” (well, actually reprocessed) and “A British man ate 36 cockroaches in 1 minute,” mixed in with duds like, “Birds don’t sweat” and “A meteorite once hit a mailbox in Georgia, USA.”

You might not call that reading, but it could easily stimulate interest in subjects that the tidbits touch on.

Reaching deeper into the abnormal, with facts of its own is Attack of the Killer Facts! 1,001 Terrifying Truths by Eric Grzymkowski (Adams Media, $13.95). Its contribution to the common theme is, “The urine of King George III was a deep shade of purple.”

The book is obviously for older kids and adults, because it gives its sources. It turns out kangaroo in Aborigine means, “I do not understand you,” the response to Captain Cook’s question about the name of the bouncing animal he encountered in 1770 in Australia.

Ken Lytle and Katie Corcoran Lytle turn to historic oddities in The Little Book of Big F*#k Ups: 220 of History’s Most Regrettable Moments (Adams Media, $12.95). This book is also for older kids, even if it fails to cite sources. It is chronological and gives sidelights to major events that could lead to further reading and the chance to learn about historical events.

Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World of Food: Brains, Bugs, and Blood Sausage (Delacorte, $15.99) covers a worldwide search for interesting meals with facts and information about places as well as their food. The author shows young adult readers that you don’t need to fit in to another culture, as long as you appreciate something in common and can be enthusiastic about strange environments.

Frank Lipsius is a contributing writer to MetroKids.

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Jul 7, 2011 01:49 pm
 Posted by  minesak3

While I appreciate creativity, I do not think insinuations of harsh profanity for book titles recommended for children is appropriate, regardless of age. I was shocked to see in this issue of MetroKids' Book Review section, that in an effort to share some historical mistakes, the authors felt the need to almost use harsh language in their title "The Little Book of F*#k Ups..." Don't we have a responsibilty as parents and adults in our society not to encourage certain behaviors in our children or people period, for that matter? Now, can we shield our children from what they hear, see or read, out of our presence...no! But I do think we have a duty to build a foundation that supports and protects them in their childhood, as well as adulthood. We already expose our children to enough before they can handle it. The media gets in a little more raunchy and risque material as it is, for each coming generation. Why do we, as parents or leaders in our community, need to accept or promote it any further? Does anyone care or are we totally a society of "do what makes you happy and feel good", "forget the rest!", or calling on God when we do our thing and it goes wrong, for Him to fix it or rescue us? It seems our moral code is gone...no more standards to live our lives by. What happened to "it takes a village to raise a child?" Wow!

Danyelle (concerned wife and nuturing mother of 3)

Jul 14, 2011 01:09 pm
 Posted by  Cheryl K.

I have enjoyed reading Metrokids since my daughter was small. While scanning the July issue, I had to do a "double take" when I saw the tile of "The Little Book of Big F*#k Ups." I couldn't believe you would recommend this book in your magazine! It is an obvious attempt by the authors to lure children in to reading by using profanity (as though it were cool or something). And then, to suggest that failures are "F*#k Ups" rather than potential learning experiences is disheartening. I am very disappointed...

Jul 25, 2011 01:28 pm
 Posted by  AnneG

I completely agree with the other two posts. I was very shocked to see this title in the book review section. It isn't even meant for a child - it's geared toward adults! I have really enjoyed MetroKids in the past and I hope they do not make a habit of promoting inappropriate material.

Aug 3, 2011 02:21 pm
 Posted by  Ed Waysz DE

I was in PA visiting my son and his family last week. I picked up a copy of your magazine " MetroKids ", as I have done before, to take home and read for some good ideas. I was shocked to see the above mentioned book displayed and could not believe your magazine was recommending a child read the title, regardless of the content. Why would you offer such material ? The characters *# in no way disguise the true intent of the word. We don't use that type of language at our home or in our family, either children or adults. Why promote a decline in moral values rather than attempt to raise those moral values ? I am shocked and disappointed in the author of the article as well as the editor, etc. that would allow the printing of it for the viewing of children.

Aug 3, 2011 03:47 pm
 Posted by  jamguy

I have been very flattered by the strong reaction to my review of a book with a salacious title. My perspective is that MetroKids is written for the parent, who can only decide these issues by knowing they’re there. Maybe parents of teens or pre-teens might feel that an attention-grabbing title could get their kids to read history because it was a step closer to cool. If, as I like to kid myself were possible, parenting is a constant effort to keep a step ahead of your kids, this book might be just right for some time when a serious academic subject would suddenly be interesting because of its wiseguy discursive approach. Anyway, I appreciate that readers took the time to write. I am perfectly happy to entertain rebuttals and reasons why I should stay the nevermind away from certain subjects — or titles.
Frank Lipsius

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