Okay, I should just read kids' nonfiction books all the time. Well no, not really, but they'e sure chock-full of fun, mostly random facts, presented in a fun way, so they're right up my alley!
Toys!: Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson, Laurie Keller (Illustrations)
This book, naturally, is about toys. Very few toys were invented by someone who just said "I want to think of a toy!" In fact some have some rather unusual background like the Slinky and Silly Putty, both of which were developed for use in the military (which neither product was good at). Some took a while to take off. Others were instant hits. Some have changed a bit over the years, such as Mr. Potato Head didn't used to come with a potato—you would use a potato out of your own vegetable bin (which also meant the accessories had very sharp spikes on them to get them in the potato, not like today's dull plastic nibs.)
How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
by Georgia Bragg, Kevin O'Malley (Illustrator)
One nice thing about this book is that the author manages to die all these famous people together, even though if you look at the table of contents you'll wonder how (and in the endnotes she has a chart showing exactly how everyone is tied together.) The book is mildly gross, perfect for middle grade kids, and the famous people are famous enough that they should have heard of them (Cleopatra, Napoleon, Albert Einstein). It treats the subject lightly, but not irreverently to be disrespectful. But always with the perfect tone for the audience in mind.
I know kids this age often have trouble finding good nonfiction books for reports or for reading assignments, but these would both be excellent choices. And if you are an adult assisting a struggling reader, know that you will enjoy these books as well.
This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.
Both of these books I checked out of the library.
Both of these books are published by Macmillan, my employer.