Supernatural: Explore the Unknown, from Atlantis to Zombies, from DK Publishing (2010, middle grade, 96 pages) Ghosts. Mediums. Telepathy. Bigfoot. UFOs. These are just a few of the strange and scary topics are covered in DK’s Supernatural, which combines Seasonal Appropriateness, genuinely interesting content and lovely presentation.
The book is a thing of beauty, with silver boarder design and lettering, and a holographic image on the cover. It has much the same appeal, object-wise, as the –ology books (Dragonology, Monstorology, etc). It is given heft (enough so that it is a “tome’), by the thickness and sturdiness of the pages (almost board book thick). And inside is the usual combination that characterizes DK—the subject bites arranged in paragraphs, and accompanied by copious illustrations.
Many and various are the DK books that I have enjoyed reading with my children, but Supernatural is the first that I read cover to cover all by myself in one sitting! It relies heavily on authentic historical images, so that the reader sees the same photographs of ghosts that convinced the masses 100 years ago. There’s a picture of a medium with ectoplasm, a picture of a victim of spontaneous combustion (lying inside a fire place), and a picture of what a poltergeist did to an office back in the 1980s.. These historically-oriented topics I found tremendously engaging, and even more shop-worn topics (zombies and vampires) were not without interest.
This book is not intended to scare the reader, but to inform and educate. The creators of this book to side firmly on the side of disbelief, with “Dr. Doubt” (the self-proclaimed spokesman for “sanity and sense”) introducing the book and showing up to cast aspersions the reality of each topic covered. The book closes with a look at the two opposing sides of Spooked and Skeptic—fringe “scientists” vs. rational thinker and the reader is invited to choose their side. In my mind, at least, the perfectly rational explanations offered for some (but not all) of the supernatural mysteries presented, the gallery of famous hoaxes, and my own natural cynicism make the choice easy!
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(review copy received from the publisher)