Review copies from publisher.
Kids love 'factoids'. They also love knowing more than the people around them (as do adults and turtles, let's be honest), and these books are chock full of urban legend-type 'facts' and the truth behind them. At last, the phrase "and called it macaroni" explained!
While each item gets just a two-page spread, it is packed with enough information to move these beyond the grade-school version of a coffee table book. We consider ourselves fairly well-read, but still learned amountain about ancient make-up, cast-iron skillets, and Betty Crocker. Some of the things we learned would be great tidbits to include in a historical fiction novel. Let's say a character in your 16th-century novel dies her hair red (to be like Queen Elizabeth) and experiences unexplained nosebleeds. History buffs will think you're a brilliant researcher for making that connection!
Kids will enjoy these books for their own sake, and won't notice or care when they learn a little science or history along the way (you're going to remember Elizabeth I was a red-head now, aren't you?) For the teacher looking for a little writing motivation, try making each question a story-starter: Is it really dangerous to talk on the phone in a thunderstorm? What could happen to your main character if (s)he did?
Hmm...we feel a good thriller coming on. Excuse us while we go dictate to Miss Ami. In the meantime, you can check out some more great nonfiction reviews at Wrapped in Foil, today's host of Nonfiction Monday.