What’s the world’s stinkiest fruit? Which building tilts more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa? And where can you eat fried spiders as snacks? These and a slew of additional questions are answered in The Not-For-Parents Travel Book, a compendium of facts about 200 countries, which kicks off Lonely Planet’s new series of guides for kids. Marking this travel guide book and digital media publisher’s first foray into children’s books, this junior edition of the company’s The Travel Book for adults pubs in October, as do four city-specific guides, Not-For-Parents New York City, Not-For-Parents Rome, Not-For-Parents London, and Not-For-Parents Paris.

With offices in London, Melbourne, Delhi, and Oakland, Calif., Lonely Planet has provided travel advice to book buyers across the globe since 1973. Piers Pickard, publishing director for trade, reference and language, remarks that the thrust of the new children’s publishing program closely aligns with the company’s adult program.

“Lonely Planet has always stood for curiosity about the world, empowerment, exploration, and open-mindedness, and these values are as relevant to children as they are to adults,” he says. “Kids may not be travel decision-makers—maybe they’re not even traveling—but they are certainly hungry to learn more about the world they live in. We want to show them that world in a way that is relevant to their needs and interests. So Rome is as much about gelato, soccer, and gladiators as it is about the Sistine Chapel or St. Peter’s Square.”

The heavily illustrated guides were created in partnership with international packager Weldon Owen. “We at Lonely Planet are experts at producing travel guides and know the world better than anyone,” Pickard explains. “But we wanted to work with a children’s publishing specialist to make sure these would be books that kids wanted to read, not just books that parents wanted to buy.”

Pickard estimates that the Not-For-Parents series will add five or six titles in 2012, and hopes that the line will expand its focus. “I’d certainly like to see the series go beyond cities,” he notes. “We want to tell stories about the places and cultures that interest kids the most. We also have a brand that is strong enough to work outside traditional guidebooks, so expect to see Lonely Planet doing more illustrated publishing in the future.”

The five inaugural Not-For-Parents titles will also be released as e-books, and will be published simultaneously in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, as well as in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Singapore. Lonely Planet has inked deals to publish the books in 11 additional languages, “with more in negotiation,” Pickard reports.

The publisher is encouraged by the across-the-board response to the series, citing interest from chains, independents, warehouse outlets, and airport stores. And Not-For-Parents has opened up new marketing channels for Lonely Planet, especially school libraries. “We previewed the series at ALA, and had a tremendous response from librarians,” says Leslie Davisson, Lonely Planet’s senior print marketing manager. “I was working the booth and repeatedly heard, ‘There is nothing else like this!’ ”

The Not-For-Parents Travel Book, $19.99 Oct. ISBN 978-1-74220-814-5

Not-For-Parents New York City, $14.99 Oct. ISBN 978-1-74220-815-2

Not-For-Parents Rome, $14.99 Oct. ISBN 978-1-74220-818-3

Not-For-Parents London, $14.99 Oct. ISBN 978-1-74220-816-9

Not-For-Parents Paris, $14.99 Oct. ISBN 978-1-74220-817-6