Oh, Gross -- How Inspiring!

Monday, December 18, 2006

S ometimes you don't want a book with a plot, a villain and a surprise ending -- you just want a good chuckle. Luckily, there are plenty of books out there designed to inspire you, give a giggle or gross you out.

KidsPost's Margaret Webb Pressler found some fun books that are perfect for traveling, long days without school over winter break or just taking your mind off that piano recital next week. Any one of these would make a great gift, too.

The Doggy Dung Disaster & Other True Stories, by Garth Sundem, $9.95: This collection of tales about real kids doing amazing things is inspiring. It's broken into sections so you can choose a story that appeals to your mood. Feeling distressed about the environment? Read about kids who've done something to help the planet, including a 12-year-old Japanese girl who invented a pooper-scooper for dogs that's more friendly to the environment than the plastic bags most people use. There also are stories about kids overcoming challenges, using their talents and creativity, standing up for themselves and helping others.

The Brainiest, Insaniest Ultimate Puzzle Book, Workman Publishing, $10.95: This collection just cries out for a rainy day or a long plane ride. With page after page of unusual and fun activities, you'll find that a pencil is all you need to while away the hours. There are mazes and brainteasers, word searches and picture finds, but with a twist. Warning: You might need more than one copy of this book, because this is something you won't want to share!

You Gotta Be Kidding! by Randy Horn, $8.95: Would you rather swallow a handful of live tadpoles or eat a whole dead frog? Once you've read a few of these "choices," you'll understand the title. The idea is to look at the outrageous, ridiculous "would you rather" questions and actually pick one. This is bound to create lots of laughs and maybe even some serious conversation. Would you rather have all your senses work only half as well as they do now, or lose one sense altogether? These are tough questions!

101 Places You Gotta See Before You're 12! by Joanne O'Sullivan, $9.95: It doesn't matter if you're close to the age deadline, because this book is full of fun suggestions that would entertain anyone under or over the age of 12. But it's a good list to have around when you're young because it's long, so it will take a while. Looking for something to do? Why not suggest seeing a pigpen? Or an archaeological site? Not possible? Then how about a cemetery or your parent's office? With pictures and background for each suggestion, you'll find some great ideas. Plus, it's fun to see how many things on the list you've already done.

Oh, Yikes! History's Grossest, Wackiest Moments, by Joy Masoff, $14.95: You might think that this book -- with entire sections on subjects such as knighthood, ancient medicine and the travels of Lewis and Clark -- could teach you something of value. Well, not unless that includes what happened to Albert Einstein's brain (it has something to do with cider) and the origin of the phrase "paying through the nose" (it's painful). You will find lots of facts to amaze your friends, teachers and parents in chapters that include "Nutty Napoleon" and "The Weird Things People Will Put on Their Feet." But we suggest that you don't bring up the recipe for making "portable puke" at the dinner table.

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