Guinness World Records 2010: The Book of The Decade, by Guinness World Records

Guinness World Records 2010: The Book of The Decade. By Guinness World Records.  Guinness World Records Limited, 2009.  280 pages. $28.95

Content: The most.  The largest.  The best.  The smallest.  The newest. The fastest.  The youngest.  The heaviest.  The strangest.  The longest.  The first.  The oldest.  The loudest.  The Guinness Book of World Records brings you world records from the year as well as from the first decade of the 2000’s.  From scientific discoveries and unique human bodies to sports records and cutting edge technology, this book covers a lot of ground.  This book is packed full of information, pages have very little blank space between the extensive text and many full-color photographs.  Just a quick flip through the book is exciting and entertaining, but it is also something that a reader could read from cover to cover.  Reluctant readers are likely to be inspired by this book, with appeal to both boys and girls.

Review: This book is fascinating, exciting, interesting, silly, and even educational.  There is some great science information as well as tons of facts about a huge diversity of things.  A great book for tweens to read together with a parent or a friend, there is something for everyone in this volume.  While there is a fairly extensive Table of Contents organized in page order, which is by category, there is no index, which detracts from the reader’s ability to pinpoint a particular world record.  The Guinness Book of World Records was the originator of this type of superlative information book in 1950’s.  This 2010 edition is a colorful, compelling, and exciting book, worthy of the Guinness name.

Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Reading/Interest Level: 8-14 years

Available in: Hardcover

ISBN: 978-1904994503

Similar Books: Time for Kids That’s Awesome!, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Enter if You Dare, Time for Kids Super Science Book, Guinness World Records 2011

Subjects: food, plants, animals, insects, electricity, world records, sports, the earth, celebrities, pets, music, movies, television, energy, buildings, transportation, vehicles, collections, stunts, human body, technology


Time for Kids That’s Awesome! The World’s Most Amazing Facts & Records, by the Editors of Time for Kids Magazine

Time for Kids That’s Awesome! The World’s Most Amazing Facts & Records. By the Editors of Time for Kids Magazine. Time Home Entertainment, Inc., 2010.  208 pages. $19.95

Content: In fifteen “AWESOME” chapters, this book provides information about noteworthy (awesome) things from around — and beyond — the world.  Each page is covered in colorful photographs as well as printed facts.  Readers can learn about things huge and tiny, incredible animals and plants, remarkable sports events, unusual food, the wonder of outer space, extreme weather, and more.  From new technologies and a $30,000 doghouse to beetles bigger than your hand and wonders of the ancient world this book will amaze and thrill.  Find out: what is the largest waterfall in the world, what is the largest mammal on earth, how to spot computer spyware, who was the first American woman in space, the snowiest places in the U.S., how to build a miniature scene in the eye of a needle and MUCH MORE!

Review: Exciting, interesting, and awe inspiring, That’s Awesome is a great choice for reluctant readers and readers more interested in non-fiction, which often, but not always, is boys.  The hundreds of items included in the book are fascinating.  The photographs are colorful and beautiful.  The topics are varied.  The book is published by Time Home Entertainment, which lends some legitimacy to the book, assuring readers that the facts are well researched and accurate.

Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Reading/Interest Level: 9-12 years

Available in: Hardcover

ISBN: 978-1603201568

Similar Books: Guinness World Records 2011, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Enter if You Dare, Time for Kids Super Science Book

Subjects: animals, plants, outer space, dinosaurs, sports, food, arts, weather, jobs, technology, human body, history


MythBusters by Beyond Televison Productions

MythBusters, TV Program. Produced by Beyond Television Productions for the Discovery Channel. Hosted by Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage.  2003 – present.

Content: Urban legends, rumors, and myths are put to the test by the “myth busters,” lead by hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, with help from co-hosts Tory Belleci, Kari Byron and Grant Imahara.  The myth busters are a multi-talented group with expertise in engineering, technology, geometry, science, firearms, explosives, physics, robotics, and more.  Each show features two to three myths that are brought to life, in the safest possible way, and tested for veracity.  Myths can either be confirmed, busted, or plausible, if they are not confirmed or busted with certainty.  The hosts are witty, intelligent, creative and hilarious (word provided by my tween son).  The process of testing myths is often tricky, as some of them are difficult to duplicate accurately.  The shows are often messy, sometimes dangerous, and occasionally gross (see MythBusters Double Dipping episode).   The hosts create elaborate props and settings with which to test the myths; they often provide controls for their experiments, and they try to think through what possible problems could arise to make the test inaccurate.  Some tests are more accurate than others, but the show is entertaining and enlightening every time.

Review: There is science to be learned in MythBusters and, even more, each show is a lively demonstration of problem solving skills.  There is a myth, and the hosts have to figure out how it is going to be tested.  The beginning of each shows gives the viewer some insight into the process the team used to figure out how to test the myth.  Then viewers watch the preparation for and finally the demonstration of the myth, this can include multiple iterations, if something in the original demonstration goes wrong.  In any given episode, viewers can learn about science, engineering, and physics, as well as learn creativity, reasoning and thinking skills.  Sometimes I find the test methodology to be flawed thus the results may not accurately measure the myth being tested, but there is always a valiant effort to do a high quality job.  This show is a great choice for tweens, as it is entertaining enough to draw them in and keep them attentive, meanwhile, there are many lessons to be learned, including the oft heard, “Do NOT try this at home.”

Bonus for Bay Area Tweens: this show takes place in and around San Francisco, so scenes of the area are often in the background.

Genre(s): Non-fiction, Science

Viewing/Interest Level: 8+ years

Available in: Cable TV Discovery Channel, DVD

Similar Programs: Dirty Jobs

Subjects: urban legends, myths, science, engineering, physics


An Inconvenient Truth (Young Readers Edition) by Al Gore

An Inconvenient Truth (Young Readers Edition). By Al Gore. Penguin Young Readers Group, 2006.  191 pages. $23

Content: A primer on global warming and the “climate crisis,” An Inconvenient Truth is the adaptation for young readers of the documentary film and book of the same name. Gore explains global warming’s causes and effects through easy-to-read text and demonstrative full-color photographs, artwork, charts and diagrams.  Chapters cover climate change, pollution, the atmosphere, weather and storms, humans’ impact on the earth, and more.  The graphics and pictures complement the text as teaching tools themselves, and with the easy to read and understand text An Inconvenient Truth is a great choice for a wide range of tweens and visual learners.

Review: Al Gore, well known for his activism on behalf of the earth, has taken his message to tweens in a beautiful, intelligent, and important book. An Inconvenient Truth is well written for the audience it targets.  The use of colorful graphics, photographs, and illustrations effectively demonstrate a multitude of points that words alone would could not convey.  Photos of glaciers from 100 years ago and “today” show, in dramatic fashion, the impact of global warming.  The book doesn’t go into great depth, but it feels right for this age group.  It provides an overview and several specific examples.  There are many topics that tweens might be interested in researching further.  The one disappointment is the two page “Take Action” spread at the end of the book, which literally contains only four bullet points with ideas; it almost feels like an afterthought, though it does point readers to a website for information.

Genre(s): Non-Fiction, Science

Reading/Interest Level: 9-12 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback

Similar Books: Our Choice: How We Can Solve the Climate Crisis (Young Reader’s Edition), An Inconvenient Truth DVD, The Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids: The Secrets Behind What You Eat

Subjects: climate, climate crisis, environment, ozone layer, global warming, air pollution, water pollution, energy, transportation, weather, garbage, recycling, habitats, conservation, wildlife, earth science, technology, population


How to Save the Planet by Barbara Taylor

How to Save the Planet. By Barbara Taylor. Illus. by Scoular Anderson.  Scholastic, Inc., 2001.  96 pages. $16.00

Content: “So, why does the Earth need saving?  Well, to put it bluntly, because of us!”  But, don’t despair, because How to Save the Planet is HERE!  This book provides answers to WHAT the problems facing the earth are, things like pollution of the earth, sky and oceans, destruction of natural habitats, and depletion of natural resources.  It explains WHY these things have happened, and it explains WHO can do something about it – US!  In easy to read, accessible text and cartoon-like illustrations, this book breaks down a serious topic into digestible parts.  Entertaining and informative, How to Save the Planet meets younger tweens at their level about a topic both interesting and important to many of them.

Review: Written in an informal style that tweens can easily understand, How to Save the Planet a great way for younger tweens to learn about the, potentially overwhelming, topic of the environment.  With wit and playfulness Taylor gives tweens knowledge, insights and, perhaps most importantly, information about what they themselves can do to make a difference. Chapters cover the ozone layer, global warming, air pollution, water pollution, energy, transportation, garbage and recycling, and habitats; and each chapter ends with a “Go for Green” section, which starts: “Here are some things you can do to…” There are also “Be an Earth Scientist” experiments to help demonstrate some of the concepts in the book, “Check Acid Levels in Your Rain” and “Make Recycled Paper” for example. Taking a huge topic and summing it up in fewer than 100 pages is a big job, and How to Save the Planet manages to do it quite well.

Genre(s): Non-fiction, Science

Reading/Interest Level: 8-10 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback

ISBN: 9780531146408

Similar Books: The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming, 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth, Earth Explained

Subjects: environment, ozone layer, global warming, air pollution, water pollution, energy, transportation, garbage, recycling, habitats, conservation, wildlife, earth science