Everything Under the Sun

Everything Under the Sun
Molly Oldfield
Ladybird Books

This is an exciting compendium of 366 questions (one for every day of the year plus 1 for a leap year) posed by inquisitive children from all over the world, that has its origins in the podcast from Molly Oldfield aka QI Elf.

Written contributions, some factual responses others opinion-based, come from a wealth of experts such as scientists, authors, poets, politicians, conservationists and the twelve illustrators who provided the visuals. Interestingly Rob Biddulph gives an answer (as does author Abi Eplhinstone) to “Where do ideas come from?” but he isn’t among those illustrators (Laurie Stansfield did the art for that one); neither is Oliver Jeffers who responds to “Why do people make art?” I particularly love this part of Rob’s reply, probably because he endorses my feelings: “… My children are a really good source for my ideas. They are big readers, and they have really vivid imaginations! And no idea is too silly!”

Some of the spreads have a theme, for instance there’s one with four wild animal questions, three relating to big cats, the other being “What noise does a zebra make?” Another has three penguin questions.

Others devote a double spread to a single question “Why do butterflies have patterns on their wings” being one for August.

There’s a splendid illustration of an owl around which a question of head rotation is discussed.

On a completely different topic, Nick Ross explains why the Tower of Pisa is leaning.

Not something this reviewer has ever considered but I was interested to learn why nonetheless. That’s another way this book works. You can just dip in randomly and discover something that perhaps you didn’t know before and no matter your particular interests, you’re pretty sure to come upon something illuminating.

Or you might have a question binge and spend hours browsing and you could formulate a few questions of your own. I wondered why there are relatively few ‘where?’ questions compared with those asking ‘why’ and ‘what’ and it’s great to see such a wide age range of inquiring children (2-18) included as the source of the questions.

I’d strongly recommend both families and primary schools adding this engrossing book to their shelves.

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