There are some books that you know instantly will make marvelous presents for a curious child (no genius required). How to be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train It, by John Woodward, illustrated by Serge Seidlitz and Andy Smith (DK, 2009) is such a book.
I'm imagining giving it to my children at the start of Christmas vacation at Grandma's house, imagining many happy hours poring together as a family over the information bits, challenging each other to the mind puzzle bits--mazes, memory challenges, logic problems--it will be a beautiful thing.
And this is a beautiful, wonder-filled book. There are the plenty of challenges for the reader (some of which I have excelled at, others not so much, although already being, of course, a genius, I am not worried about those). But there's also tons of information of the sort that fascinates the non-fiction loving child (or genius grown-up). There's a two page spread, for instance, on Mary Anning, the girl who found the ichthyosaur fossil. There's another on Leonardo da Vinci. I could go on and on.
There's also a lot of attention payed to how the brain works, like the section entitled "What is Creativity?" that talks about luck, building on what's already buzzing in your brain, imagination, brain waves, incubation, and, hardest of all, follow through.
Here's a little snippet on how we read, which explains why some of us can't proof read our own blog entries:
As lnog as you wrtie the frsit and lsat lttres of a wrod, you can sitll raed it (pgae 121)
The engaging illustrations add lots of lively, humorous, and informative detail. A lovely, fun book to share with your 8-9 year old child, even though he might think he is a genius already....and a great one for older kids (and grown ups) to read on their own.
Nonfiction Monday, a regular feature of the children's book blogosphere, is at Wrapped in Foil today!
Full disclosure: review copy received from the publisher.