The Bookwrom Sez: Young readers will love this book, believe it or not!

The Bookwrom Sez: Young readers will love this book, believe it or not!

Young readers will love this book, believe it or not!

Raise your fingers high.

That’s what you’ll be doing this school year, because you’ve been practicing. You’ll be the fastest hand-raiser in the entire school, fingers pointed at the ceiling, ready to answer any question the teacher throws your way. You know things, and you’re going to prove it with a sky-high hand, fingers pointing up.

So how do you get to be so smart? You’ve got “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Reality Shock!” (c.2014, Ripley Publishing, $28.95, 256 pages) and that helps a bunch.

Robert Ripley was one of those people with “true star quality.” Everybody, it seemed, knew who he was, and they all loved him — maybe because he had a “multitude of dazzling achievements” that he enjoyed sharing with the world.

Ripley, you see, liked to travel and he liked weird, unusual things. Nowhere was too remote for him to go, and nothing was too dangerous. The novelties he collected simply astounded people almost a hundred years ago; today, you can see some of the items he might have gathered in this book.

Things, for instance, that are creepy, like spiders and alligators that lurk beneath beds, squirrels that make knots with their tails (accidentally, for sure!), and snakes that curl up in piles with other snakes. Ripley would have liked jeweled skulls, color-changing frogs, monster fish, and a bug that looks like he’s wearing fiber optics.

Ripley liked oddities, too: names that are super-long or made up of silly words; “death zones” on mountains; rickety wooden sidewalks on the face of a sheer cliff; pictures of sneezes; chewing gum portraits; or South African games that involve spitting antelope poop.

He might have personally seen rainbow trees in Hawaii, rainbow waterfalls in British Columbia, or rainbow mountains in China years ago.

You can see them in this book now.

Ripley also liked things that were outside of normal, like the world’s shortest lady, the tallest man (who also has the biggest hands), the largest waist and hips, the biggest foot, the longest tongue, tattooed people, and the longest fingernails.

And, by the way, how does someone live with long fingernails?

The answer to that is in this book, believe it or not…

In the first few pages of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Reality Shock!” the authors promise readers that “everything in this book is definitely true… .” For parents and grandparents, that’s really good news: ever since we were kids, Ripley’s stories have been based on authenticity and that hasn’t changed — it just gets weirder for the next generation of readers to enjoy.

And enjoy it they will, because this book is filled with everything a kid could want: disgustingly fascinating full-color pictures, quick anecdotes to share with friends, entries to astound, and superlatives that could spark creativity.

Packed as it is with that kind of greatness, I can’t imagine any kid age 12-and-up who wouldn’t like to page through this book. Leave “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Reality Shock!” lying around the house, and I think even reluctant readers will want to get their fingers on it.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her a

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