CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 7 . . . . October 14, 2011
Children and youth who love to amass collections of “useless” facts will enjoy these six books whose foci and scope are clearly delineated by their titles. Readers need to be aware that the superlatives in each book refer specifically to the “...est” in 10 areas that the authors have selected for inclusion in that particular book and are not necessarily the “...est” in the world. As expected of a Crabtree title, all of the books conclude with a glossary, in this case entitled “Need-to-Know-Words”, and an index. Given the books’ subject matter, both the glossary and the index are really quite unnecessary, and, if a word needed to be defined, it could have been done so in context. Inserted between the glossary and the index is a single page, half of which is occupied by a “Find Out More Online” section, with the rest of the page being devoted to some brief, unillustrated additional “...ests.” For example, Top 10 Longest includes three “Longest Record-Breakers”, with one being that “Tom Sietas held his breath for 17 minutes and 19 seconds in 2008, setting the world record” while Top 10 Smallest’s “Small Facts” reveals that “The smallest house in the world is in Amsterdam, Holland. It is just 3.28 feet (one meter wide).” As can be seen in the latter example, measurements are first given in Imperial units and them metric. Each book opens with an “Introduction” that occupies a pair of facing pages while each of the book’s “...ests” is also dealt with over a pair of facing pages. The brief texts of all six books are generously illustrated with colour photos that show the various “...ests.” With one exception, the content of each book concludes with a pair of pages that rank the 10 “...ests.”
Top 10 Longest contains the longest human fingernail (both female and male), the longest reptile, car, insect, hot dog, coral reef, ship, human-made structure and life spans (human and land animal).
The tallest roller coaster, bridge, iceberg, mountain, snowwoman, tree, waterfall, human-built structure and house of cards make up the content of Top 10 Tallest. Actually, the area of human-built structure is treated twice, with the first being “Top Ten Tallest Human-built Structures” in which Canada’s CN Tower (553 meters) ranks second to the United Arab Emirates’ Burj Dubai (818 meters). The Burj Dubai then receives its own two-page spread.
Following an opening entry on the “World Land Speed Record”, plus a later entry on the “Water Speed Record,” going fast in Top 10 Fastest finds expression in the fastest car, motorbike, bird, elevator, aircraft, train, plant, land and water mammals, plus flightless birds.
The Top 10 Biggest include the world’s biggest hamburger, food fight, motorbike, aircraft, land animal, sea animal, production car, flower, swimming pool and tomb. For those who recall the tv ad in which an elderly lady asked, “Where’s the beef?”, the biggest hamburger, which is evidently available at a restaurant in Michigan and costs in the neighbourhood of $500.00, contains 84 kilograms of beef. Don’t bother asking for it at the drive-through as it needs to be ordered three days in advance as it requires 15 hours in the oven.
According to the Top 10 Slowest, the world’s slowest include the slowest race (an oxymoron?), mammal, growing plant, plane, construction of a building, heartbeat, train, vehicle, machine, piece of music being played, and animals (fish and birds).
What’s small constitutes the contents of Top 10 Smallest, and that category includes the smallest skyscraper, mammal, plane, seahorse, car, rattlesnake, helicopter, pets (cat, dog, horse), camera and sculpture
Though not the equivalent of a volume of Guinness World Records, these six books from the “Crabtree Connections” series will find an audience in elementary and middle schools. My only concern is the content to cost ratio, especially since some of the “...ests” will be surpassed with the passage of time in time. For example, the world’s shortest man, Pingping (0.7 meters tall) who was contrasted with Svetlana Pankratova, who has the world’s longest legs (1.3 meters), has died since the appearance of Top 10 Longest. Perhaps the paperback route is the one to be taken by cost conscious school and public libraries.
Recommended with reservations.
Dave Jenkinson, who edits CM, one of Canada’s most comprehensive book review journals, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.