Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stuff that Scares your Pants Off! by Glenn Murphy

Stuff That Scares Your Pants Off: the science scoop on more than 30 terrifying phenomena!
by Glenn Murphy
Roaring Brook Press. 2011
ISBN: 9781596436336
Reviewer obtained the book from the public library.

Everyone, especially children, loves reading about Fear. It is our human nature to want to be scared and pump up our adrenalin. Stuff that Scares your Pants Off is a new book that promises to look at fears, "Where they come from, and how to work with them, live with them, and get around them." Murphy's hypothesis is that we are born with some fears (inborn) and others are learned behavior.

The book is divided into topics that are grouped into six chapters."Wild and Scary Wildlife", "Natural Disasters", Doctors, Dentists, and Deadly Diseases", "In the Unlikely Event", "In the Bad Place", and "The Unknown". Within those chapters the book is further broken down into specific fears. Chapter 4 is "In the Unlikely Event". It discusses the fear of flying, train derailment, a boat sinking, car crashes, and being struck by a car. The author presents a scenario (The Fear) and then explains "The Reality", "The Chances", and "The Lowdown".

The author, Glenn Murphy, (Why Is Snot Green?) writes in a chatty tone that makes readers feel as if they are having an intense, though somewhat quick-paced conversation. This book uses a combination of black & white drawings and photos, often with a lime green tinge, that mirrors the text. An explanation of The Fear and the Fear Facts are off-set in boxes from the rest of the information. 

A very minor complaint is that Murphy makes generalization, is a bit contradictory, and has a keen sense of the obvious.

"Although some sharks are quite definitely dangerous animals, many are completely harmless to humans." That is true. "Even the so-called man-eaters, like great white sharks, are not the bloodthirsty killers than movie directors would have us believe." 

Murphy goes on to explain that "while it's true that these sharks do occasionally attack swimmers and divers, it's almost always by mistake. Most attacks happen to divers who try to feed or prod sharks (not very bright) or surfers who fall off their boards and onto sharks, surprising them (just plain unlucky). Unprovoked shark attacks also happen, but usually to swimmers and surfers who, to a shark, happen to look a lot like seals or turtles from below -- a painful but honest mistake." 

Did you know that being struck by a car is a terrifying experience? The reality is that road-traffic accidents really are a serious danger. "Road-traffic accidents are so common that many of us have been in them, seen them firsthand, or at the very least know somebody who has been in one. And they're never a pretty sight…Luckily traffic accident victims are bounced clear of the car and escape with minor injuries like broken wrists or ribs. The less lucky ones crack their heads when they fall, bounce into other objects, or slip under the wheels of the vehicle -- all of which can prove fatal." 

Murphy's matter-of-fact, tongue-in-cheek, wise-guy tone will appeal to readers, especially those who love facts.

Plus it touts a way cool cover. 

4 Stars
(Grades 5 up)

For more information about Glenn Murphy, visit his web site. 

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