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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2010

I am a great believer in education. If the disadvantaged of this world were only given education, the world would be a better place. Unfortunately, there is more than one force opposing education for all, intent on maintaining the status quo. A great shame.
However, the National Geographic people have done their bit for many years, and this new publication National Geographic Kids Almanac 2010 (ISBN 978-1-4263-0501-6, National Geographic publishers, 2009) is designed to make the learning experience for children a fun and rewarding one.
The almanac is divided into nine main sections including Your World 2010, Awesome Adventure, Amazing Animals, Culture Connection, Geography Rocks, Going Green, History Happens, Wonders of Nature and Super Science.
Being an American organization, it came as no surprise that the first item in the first chapter related to Barack Obama being voted into the White House. I think everyone would agree that it was a momentous occasion for the world, let alone the US.
The pages are illustrated in a vibrant and very colorful way which should appeal to the younger market. The facts are presented in anything but a stuffy didactic way.
There are many pages on the dinosaurs, a group that has held the world’s attention, even though they have been extinct for millions of years, and popularity of the movie Jurassic Park is a testament to this.
Of definite value is the section called “Homework Help” with some very practical advice on how to write and present oral reports and even a checklist of what to do in the lead-up to the presentation.
The origins of the universe are given following modern scientific thought and not the creationist doctrine. Genesis doesn’t get a mention. Interesting facts are presented about our own solar system and the major constellations.
Recent findings on nano-technology are explained in simple terms, but yet with enough depth to give the young minds a good start in understanding the world which will be coming - even if not quite 2010, things will be very different by 2020.
In the section on inventions and discoveries there is mention of Yves Rossy, the man who ‘wears’ the jet-powered wing to fly across continents, who had to ditch a couple of weeks ago when he got confused in dense cloud as to which way was up. A real adventurer, doing something nobody else has done since Icarus. However, it was heartening to see that the true pioneers of science such as Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Alexander Bell and Albert Einstein were not ignored.
At B. 450 in my local Bookazine store, it is a very inexpensive Xmas gift for young enquiring minds. Unfortunately, nowhere could I find the recommended age groups for this book, but I would suggest 10 years and up. By the way, even though the almanac is directed towards children, there were plenty of facts that this old father did not know, such as the “zorse” (half zebra, half horse) being kept in a German zoo, or the fact that cats can communicate with each other having a known vocabulary of 16 “cat words”.