Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Reference Books
Pick Me Up: Stuff You Need to Know...

Pick Me Up: Stuff You Need to Know...

Fall 2006 Reference Books
Ages: 10 - 16 yrs.
Author: Jeremy Leslie
Author: David Roberts
Editor: David Roberts
Publisher: DK Publishing
ISBN: 0-7566-2159-3
Hardcover Price: $29.99
Long-time publisher of kid's information-weighted books and software, Dorling Kindersley (DK), is trying to bring the computer-mesmerized, video-game addicted, next-generation kids back to books. And this energetic, colorful, oddball, compendium of info “you need to know” tackles that objective head-on.

True to DK's approach, this plump collection of all and everything is illustrated to the extreme, some of its pages dominated with poignant or wacky photos and minimal explanations, others filled with words in the tiniest of type. Nothing's in any particular order—not chronological, alphabetical or topical. Miscellaneous mostly—and including everything from science, art and engineering to sex, politics and religion. All of this purposeful chaos of knowledge is designed to mimic the Internet, its loud, pop-culture illustrations patterned after in-your-face videogame animation and graphics.

Turn to page 52, for instance, and there's a full-page photo of Muhammad Ali's giant fist heading directly at you and three chunky paragraphs about who's the greatest sports star ever. Pages 316 and 317 are a double-page spread of everyday things that didn't exist a lifetime ago—from the AA-size alkaline battery and contact lenses to the laptop computer and ATM.

But for all of it's miscellany, the book is cross-referenced in its pages, nicely illustrating how thing are connected: Read about why the Mona Lisa is beautiful, for instance, and in the text will be underlined and boldfaced connective topics with their page number—such as supermodels 262, Leonardo Da Vinci 254 and smile 078. Unconventional, yes, but the book is fun and fascinating, and aptly titled. Young readers will pick it up, again and again, and undoubtedly learn something they “need to know.“

Don Oldenburg   ©2006 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Share This