Every Minute on Earth, by Steve Murrie and Matthew Murrie

How many times have you been asked the question: ‘What’s happening?’ and you shrugged your shoulders and answered, ‘Not much.’ You’ve probably had this conversation more than once today, not to mention the first ten minutes you are at school, the first phone call you receive on the weekend and every time you meet someone new. The truth is that thousands of things are happening every minute of every day on Earth. You might be surprised to discover how much really happens: the number of lightning strikes, the amount of water that flows from the Amazon in to the ocean, how far the Earth travels, how much a whale can inhale, how many miles the fastest plane can travel, all in just one minute.

A minute doesn’t seem very long, unless you’re waiting for something to happen, or waiting for the phone to ring. But, globally, quite a lot happens in this seemingly short period of time. There are five earthquakes strong enough to be felt; around 1800 galaxies collide with other galaxies; a red blood cell will travel 8.2 metres in one minute; almost a thousand camera phones are sold and 134 horses are born. Every Minute on Earth has collected facts, sorted them into sections and presents each with an explanation and further examples. There is an introduction detailing, among other things, just how a minute came to be called a minute. Eight sections categorise the facts under titles such as ‘Earth’, ‘Technology’, ‘Animals’, ‘Food’ and more. Each section ends with two activities for readers to try for themselves. Every Minute on Earth ends with Source notes and a detailed index.

Children (and many adults) are fascinated by facts. Often though the information is hard to understand or really imagine. Every Minute on Earth explains sometimes complex concepts in easy to understand language. Each fact has its own page and simple illustration, but also related information and sometimes extra ‘interesting facts’. Each fact is in larger font and coloured blue like the page border, allowing readers to skim through the facts if they choose. Each activity can be enjoyed just for fun, but each demonstrates in a tangible way some of the information contained in the preceding chapter. Activities contain more complex elements should the reader wish to extend their experience. The set out of each chapter is clear, the explanations are interesting but simple enough for young readers. Recommended for mid-primary readers and anyone interested in knowing a bit more about the world.

Every Minute on Earth, by Steve Murrie and Matthew Murrie, ill Mary Anne Lloyd
Scholastic 2008
ISBN: 9781741691382

365 Fun Facts, Weird Trivia and Amazing Lists…

We use lists every day – shopping lsits, to-do lists, spelling lists…but this book promises that the lists it offers are more exciting than other lists. There is certainly a great range of lists – from a list of the ten most expensive pieces of art in the world, to a list of the countries of the world, and a list of Nobel Peace Prize winners. Topics covered include sport, animals, history, language, science and more and there are also opportunities for readers to compile their own lists.

First produced in the USA, this edition has been localised by Australian contributor, Jane Thornton, and includes several lists unique to Australia – including geography, political figures, AFL facts and more.

Likely to especially appeal to fact-mad boys, there is plenty of information, trivia, and opportunities to show off new-found knowledge on offer here.

365 Fun Facts, Weird Trivia and Amazing Lists on Nearly Everything You Need to Know
Scholastic, 2006

So Gross – Over 100 Gross-worthy Facts

What is phlegm?
Why do some poos float and others sink?
How does vomit get from your stomach to your throat?

These are not the sort of questions we expect in polite conversation, but they are the sorts of questions many kids want answers to. And, because they are exactly the sort of questions which So Gross answers, the book is sure to appeal to primary aged children.

There are answers to over 100 similarly gross questions, which will keep kids entertained long after they have read them. How do I know? My nine year old recently read this one and has been telling me all sorts of ‘interesting’ facts about vomit, blood and other bodily functions ever since.

Whilst adult readers may find the book a little base, it is a good lesson in biology and is sure to get reluctant readers reading. Each question is answered in a paragraph or two of easy to understand text and is complemented by colourful cartoon style illustrations.

The questions answered in So Gross were chosen from questions submitted by young readers to DMAG magazine.

So Gross: Over 100 Gross-worthy Facts
Scholastic, 2005

101 Great Solar System Facts & Trivia, by Simon Torok & Paul Holper

Is there life elsewhere in the solar system?
How do you remember the order of the planets?
Why is Mars red?
Where do comets come from?

All these questions and many more are answered in this intriguing title from science writers Simon Torok and Paul Holper. Readers journey through the book from the Sun, to Mercury and all the way to Pluto, with sections exploring the Moon, comets, asteroids and more.

There is a chapter devoted to each planet explaining the origin of its name, its size and composition, its discovery and observation. Humorous cartoons and serious facts pepper the text, all presented in down to earth language and with an Australian focus, which will engage young readers.

The authors both work for the CSIRO. Simon Torok has previously edited Helix magazine and Paul Holper has a an education qualification to go along with his science degrees, making both well qualified to write on science topics for kids. Previous titles include 101 Great Australian Adventures and the Amazing Science series.

101 Great Solar System Facts and Trivia would make a great addition to the classroom or school library, but is just as suitable for private reading.

101 Great Solar System Facts and Trivia, by Simon Torok & Paul Holper
ABC Books, 2004