“Children’s book review? Come on, Camp Host Chad! Is this a tardy April Fools joke? Are you kidding us?”
Not kidding. I bought What’s the Difference? by Emma Strack in a Yosemite National Park gift shop for an adult friend who loves Jeopardy! Loves loves it. Watches it every night religiously. He enjoyed this book.
Then I borrowed my gift back, read it and liked it. I guess this isn’t so much a review as it is a recommendation. (And an introduction. But we’ll get to that next time.)
The concept and format are simple and elegant. On opposing pages, two seemingly similar pairs (like the owls on the cover) are compared and contrasted by listing scientific names or details that show their differences or commonalities, with up to six additional “bonus” facts about the pair or a related topic.
The layout, art, and binding are all perfect. Good paper stock, crisp and clear illustrations, substantial with dimensions (but not too big or heavy), and not too many (or few) pages. It’s the kind of book you appreciate holding and touching. A quick, addicting single-afternoon read — a “non-fiction beach book.”
Even though one may have learned most of the information, there are plenty of obscure facts to keep things interesting for even the most knowledgeable reader. And the categories aren’t all animals, there’s food, clothing, architecture, the universe, and more.
My favorite takeaway was learning the difference between a balcony and a terrace. I have both at my residence, and have been calling them “this balcony” and “that balcony” for over ten years. Now I can say, “Let’s go out on the terrace,” without putting on a mock “rich swell” voice.
This book makes a great gift for that hard-to-shop-for child or adult who loves learning but who already owns a ton of books. They probably don’t have this one. And if they seem hesitant when they open it (like you did with this post), just do what I do. Tell them, “I saw this and thought of you. I thought you might find it fun. Either way, feel free to donate it to the library or pass it on when you are done.” People seem to like gifts more if they know they don’t have to keep them forever…