Monday, October 23, 2017

MMGM- The Explorer, Big Book of How

Rundell, Katherine. The Explorer
September 12th 2017 by Simon Schuster Books for Young
E ARc from

Four children flying back to England in a vague post WWII period crash in the Amazon when their pilot has a fatal medical issue. From there, Fred, Con, Lila, and her five year old brother Max have to try to make it to get help in Manaus, Brazil. Along the way, they find clues in small tins, try to survive on the water and food they find, and adopt a baby sloth. Eventually, they find another human, but he is an irritable man who is still grieving over his lostv wife and child, and barely helps them. When young Max becomes gravely ill, he finally decides to help the children by showing Fred how to fly a plane he has stored.
Strengths: This had a lot of good details about the flora and fauna in the Amazon, and the steps one might need to take in order to survive there. There's a decent amount of introspection about the life to which the children will return, and the visit with the Explorer has its moments of intrigue.
Weaknesses: By page 100, I was ready to cook Max for supper, and by page 200, I was ready for everyone to perish in the wilderness, including the Explorer. Rundell seems to write characters whom I personally dislike, for qualities other people seem to fine charming.
What I really think: Everyone else seems to think that this is So Much More Than an Ordinary Survival Story, but... meh. It was fine, but nothing spectacular.

The Editors of TIME for Kids
Big Book of HOW Revised and Updated: 1,001 Facts Kids Want to Know
Copy provided by Blue Slip Media

Well, I have to say that I'm impressed by the fact that the 2011 edition had 501 facts, and this has almost twice as many! I didn't know that there were also Big Books of Who, What, When, Where and Why.

There are a TON of different topics covered in this book, from animals and buildings to science and technology. The pages are laid out in an interesting way, and there is even a page in the front instructing readers on how they need to navigate the pages. I did especially appreciate the complete index as well as the glossary in the back.

This is a much better choice for readers who like interesting tidbits of facts than the Guinness Book of World Records, although the appeal of that compendium seems to be the very gross and disturbing things that I don't appreciate. The Big Book of How has information that could actually be useful and informative to young readers and help them to better understand the world around them.

Definitely a book that I would have kept in the car for long visits to relatives when my children were young, although I do wish the bindings held together better, considering the list price of these books. (Due, I am sure, to the cost of paper and color printing. So why not reinforce the bindings a tiny bit more?)


  1. I'm not a big fan of survival stories, but I will have to give this one a try. The setting intrigues me the most. Thanks for the heads-up on this one.

  2. So many kids love these types of books - Sounds like a great book to read aloud and let students explore with partners and on their own. Students who are interested could use this book as a mentor text when writing informational texts.

  3. I have an 11-year-old great granddaughter who adores books with facts. I'll have to remember this book. The Explorer book didn't was a bit confusing. Was the irritable man on the same plane and wondering like the kids? Didn't understand where the plane Fred is to fly came from? Appreciate your honesty!

  4. HA I loved that first review - I have met so many characters in books that other reviewers seem to love, that I want to vaporize. ;-)

  5. I went to see if The Explorer was available in my library system. It is, but so far only has an average of 3 stars. It seems that you are not the only one who is less than enthusiastic.
    I am completely on your side with the lousy binding on these books. We used to do our best to reinforce them and at best it gave us a couple extra months circulation before they fall apart.

  6. Thanks for sharing Big Book of How. I like to have a basket of books like these for those few minutes of downtown. Students can pick them up and just read a page or two.

  7. Thanks for the honest review of The Explorer. Surivival stories are hot right now, so it is good to know which ones are worth the read.