Monday, April 26, 2010

Nonfiction Monday - Smart-Opedia Junior

Smart-Opedia Junior: The Amazing Book About Everything, is the perfect book for kids who love to ask questions and their parents. The following seven chapters are divided into more than 90 topical pages:
  • Our Bodies
  • A House to Live In
  • In the City
  • History
  • A World of Plants and Animals
  • A Big, Wide World
  • The Universe

Smart-Opedia Junior
opens with an introduction that describes the features of the book. Beyond the information presented on each topic, readers will find these five fun additions (as described in the book).
  • Figure It Out! - Have fun with puzzles and games. Spot hidden animals, read Egyptian Hieroglyphics, make movie sound effects.
  • What About You? - You are a very special person. What are your favorite colors? What's your birthday? What was the first word you said?
  • Did You Know? - Eye-opening facts about animals, plants, people, and places add more information -- to make you even smarter.
  • Number Time! - Discover the size of a lion, how many blocks in a pyramid, and the speed of your sneeze!
  • Kids' Question - Why does the Moon change shape? How do fish breathe underwater? Why are leaves green? Find answer to real questions like these, asked by kids just like you.

Here is a sample spread showing the What About You? feature. (Click to enlarge.)
The book covers a lot of ground in 192 pages. It includes an extensive table of contents and index. It starts small with an introduction to the child's world, and then branches out to include the community and larger world. The section on Our Bodies provides a nice introduction to many of the questions kids ask about human growth and development, as well as parts of the body and illness. I found the section on A House to Live In to be the only one that was hard to follow, with individual pieces seemingly unconnected. It begins by looking at the physical structure of the place ("How Do We Get Electricity, Water and Gas?" and "Who Built the House?") and then goes on to look at "One Day at Home" (lots of chronology and time-telling) and "What to Wear?", which looks at clothing and seasons. Next comes nutrition with "A Good Breakfast for Holly", and "Linked In Living Room", which looks at all the ways we use technology to keep us connected. It ends "In the Bathroom".

The next section, In the City, looks at the community and all it offers. The section on History is only 20 pages long, so the areas highlighted need to reflect the interests of readers this age. Need I say more than inventions, dinosaurs and pirates? The choices all make sense for the target audience. A World of Plants and Animals includes information about farming, domestic and wild animals, plants, habitats and life cycles. A Big, Wide World focuses on continents and the biomes found in them, as well as the people who live there. The final section, The Universe, examines space exploration, the solar system (correctly ending with Neptune and describing the dwarf planets of Pluto, Ceres, and Eris), and living in space.

The colorful cartoon drawings and simple sentences make this an appealing book for young readers. There is much here that curious kids will love.

Smart-Opedia Junior: The Amazing Book About Everything
Publisher: Maple Tree Press
Publication Date:
192 pages
Source of Book: Review copy received from Raab Associates.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. The round up is being hosted by Jone (MsMac) at Check It Out. Do take some time to check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.


  1. do you think it is appropriate for a child to stumble across the page about how babies are made, when they are on read to self time at daycare?

  2. First of all, I would never recommend this book for preschool. Second, even though I've listed K-3 as appropriate grades, the text would certainly need to be mediated by the teacher. Finally, I NEVER put a book in kids' hands that I haven't reviewed or looked over thoroughly first. There should be no surprises! If you don't want your kids to have a book that describes where babies come from, then don't make it available. That said, I'm not willing to condemn a book because it has one section of information (scientific information) that some folks might find disagreeable. I certainly wouldn't read it aloud to the class, but if it was in the curriculum and I wanted to do so, I would be sure to inform the parents first.