Monday, 1 November 2010

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

September 2010, Corgi Books
176 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Non-fiction, Children's, 9-11 years

Bill's own fascination with science began with a battered old schoolbook he had when he was about ten or eleven years old in America. It had an illustration that captivated him - a cutaway diagram showing Earth’s interior as it would look if you cut into it with a large knife and carefully removed about a quarter of its bulk. And he very clearly remembers thinking: “How do they know that?”

Bill's story-telling skill makes the 'How?' and, just as importantly, the 'Who?' of scientific discovery entertaining and accessible for all ages. In this exciting edition for younger readers, he covers the wonder and mysteries of time and space, the frequently bizarre and often obsessive scientists and the methods they used, the crackpot theories which held sway for far too long, the extraordinary accidental discoveries which suddenly advanced whole areas of science when the people were actually looking for something else (or in the wrong direction) and the mind-boggling fact that, somehow, the universe exists and, against all odds, life came to be on this wondrous planet we call home.

Nayuleska's thoughts
Anyone coming in contact with children know they have an almost insatiable thirst for knowledge. Readers have a lot to soak up from this book. It goes into depth on how the scientists arrived at their conclusions. It is true that most of them are eccentric (and in some cases, that is putting it mildly). Even with the explanation my unscientific mind struggled with some of the concepts (especially that of Spacetime. I love sci-fi (Stargate...Star Trek)). I think my mind hears 'science' and refuses to even try to understand the facts. I loved finding out about the different eras on earth. I enjoyed the fun illustrations, which were seamlessly put beside or superimposed on the stunning photographs. I smiled as I read the book, it's an easy to read style with a oodles of humour. 

Final conclusion
This is perfect for enquiring minds who want to know the details behind the facts of the world. 

More can be learnt about Bill (and his many books) here.

Another good read is Children's Atlas of World History by Simon Adams

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