Do Not Open: An encyclopedia of the world's best-kept secrets, by John Farndon (DK Publishing)
First published in 2007, this amazing collection of fascinating "secrets" is now available in paperback form. I think DK really knocked it out of the park with this one-there is something for everyone. There's obvious stuff-- spy gear, ufos, lost treasures, and the like--subjects that will interest the young boy reader (quite possibly girls too, but boy reader is what I observe first hand), but there are sections devoted to more esoteric secrets. If you are interested in art, read about the secrets contained within Holbein's painting, The Ambassadors. Elizabethan alchemy is popping up in quite a few fantasy books these days, so the section on Alchemists and Wizards is very apropos, ditto the sections on the Knight's Templar and Werewolves vs Vampires. Young writers of science fiction might well find inspiration in the sections on the human genome, and the ingredients of a fast-food strawberry milkshake...And for the mathematically inclined, there are fractals and the Fibonacci sequence.
There are many, many more topics covered in DK signature style--crisply written prose blocks with lots of illustrations. 244 topics, in fact, on all sorts of subjects. Great fun to browse through (in which one is helped by suggestions of similar sections to go to next, leading to a long chain of explorations). In short, a fine source of cocktail party conversation, and a fine source of tidbits for the information loving kid to add to his store, to be shared with whoever he can find to listen to him. Leave this lying around your house (along with all the other books lying around the house la la la) and your ten year old boy will find it and be entranced. (And since for days at a time it might be buried beneath other books, he can have the pleasure of discovering it over and over again...)
The Non-Fiction Monday roundup this week is at Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian.
(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)