Do Not Open: An Encyclopedia of the World's Best-Kept Secrets

John Farndon, Author . DK $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7566-3205-2

In the same stylistic vein as Jeremy Leslie and David Roberts's Pick Me Up , also from DK, this encyclopedic tome ventures into spookier territory to catalogue the mysterious and unusual. Presented in a case designed with diecuts to resemble the door of a jail cell, the title issues a challenge that readers will not want to decline—the savvy psychology evident here is typical of this volume's approach to the target audience. As with the previous book, pseudo-hyperlinks direct readers to pages with related content (a spread about the storage of nuclear waste, for example, suggests other such “explosive issues” as alchemy and spontaneous combustion). Flaps, foldout pages and varied styles of illustration—from photomontage to digital cartoons and more conventional line art—keep the book visually fresh and ably complement the subject matter, as in a spread about advertising tricks that looks as though it has been collaged from magazine photos. Farndon's (Great Scientists ) discussions are largely straightforward, and leave some mysteries open-ended while debunking others. (In a caption for an entry dedicated to the controversy surrounding Elvis's demise, Farndon writes, “A year after his death, a photograph was taken of the man himself in the grounds of Graceland. So was it an Elvis impersonator, a visit from beyond the grave, or Elvis alive and well?”) Taking in everything from “weird weather” like St. Elmo's fire and raining frogs to possible locations of Atlantis, the book incites curiosity—and expansively rewards it. Ages 10-up. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 12/17/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-7566-6293-6
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-1-4053-2207-2
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