A few weeks back, when Carolrhoda mastermind Andrew Karre discussed his fondness for all things strange and unexpected with Publishers Weekly, I doubt many people were shocked by his love of the shocking. Young adult fiction, his specialty, is a natural home for strangeness. But what about children’s nonfiction? Eh? Eh?
In life, and especially in childhood, it’s the weird stuff that grabs our attention. The stuff we didn’t see coming. The stuff we never could’ve imagined. We like to be surprised. Here’s another way to put it: We like to learn. (Shhh.) And there’s nothing like a good dose of nonfiction to knock your mental socks off.
Case(s) in point: Awesome Inventions You Use Every Day, hot off the presses from Lerner Publications, might be my favorite series of the fall season. (If I had to pick. But of course we don’t play favorites. Our books are very sensitive.)
|“Ignore Amy’s diplomacy.
I’m obviously her favorite.”
These eight titles peel back the outer layer of ordinariness from products we take for granted, revealing the craziness of their origins. Time for a quick game of “Did You Know…?”
- Popsicles were born in 1906 when an eleven-year-old boy accidentally left a soda outside overnight and found it frozen in the morning.
- Inventor Konrad Zuse built the world’s first computer, called Z1, in his parents’ living room in the 1930s.
- Ancient Egyptians used a medicine made from willow bark as a painkiller. (The drawback: it could cause heavy vomiting.) We use a form of that medicine too (minus the vomiting side effect); it’s called aspirin.
|“We’re funnier than Amy’s
summary is. Trust me.”
Not only are these books a hoot to read–they also sneak plenty of history, science, and sociology into their fun, fast-paced text. Sometimes the stranger our material is, the stronger its educational value. So Lerner Publications can proudly join with its fellow imprints to say, “Weird stuff? Bring it on.”