Andrew Pettie, illustrated by Andrés Lozano
Britannica Books

This is a cornucopia of a book that is so easy to get totally immersed in that before you know where you are, a couple of hours have gone by.

Divided into eight chapters on various aspects of our world – space, nature, dinosaur times, animals, the body, being human, inventions and game changers – it’s written in a humorous style, and absolutely bursting with amazing, bite size portions of information and I’m sure the majority of adults as well as children will learn a considerable amount.

Did you know for instance that a corned beef sandwich was smuggled onto NASA’s Gemini 3 space mission by astronaut, John Young? I don’t think much of his taste.

On the topic of taste, I was astonished to read in the Being Human chapter that the average person in Switzerland eats 176 chocolate bars in a year while in China, the average person eats a mere two. I wonder where they have better teeth?

There certainly have been some amazing inventions but this book contains 8 of the weirdest ever made. These include a motorised ice-cream cone that automatically rotates your ice-cream to save you having to turn the cone around to lick the ice-cream on the other side – totally bonkers. I know many people rely on their mobiles for lots of things but did you know there’s a mobile that doubles as an electric beard trimmer? Yes really. On the other hand, I might just have to seek out some of the smart underpants I read about as being in development and give a pair to my partner: these measure how much your buttock and leg muscles are moving and then tell you if you need to up your exercise regime.

You really can’t beat nature as designer though: look at these incredible examples of the Fibonacci sequence found in plants.

In all Andrew Pettie has stashed over 300 lists between the covers of this weighty tome, many with quirky illustrations by Andrés Lorenzo; there are also a fair number of photographs too, plus a glossary and index. Love the playful list headings.

Add to family bookshelves (so long as they’re strong enough it carry its weight) to KS2 collections and beyond, and libraries.

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