Do Not Open This Book! It says so on the cover. John Farndon created a treasure trove of freaky facts and outrageous theories. I had so much fun flipping through this book. I first noticed this book in the latest copy of VOYA. This book is full of colorful photos and cartoon drawings. It has the feel of a website because this book is meant to be browsed, not necessarily read from front to back.
Did you know in Japan that it is considered rude to blow your nose in public, but it is perfectly acceptable to pick you nose?
Did someone sink the Titanic on purpose? Was the Titanic really a patched up older ship sunk to reclaim insurance money? See page 197.
On page 124 you can find out what was built in Hitler’s secret laboratory. What was he making in the mountains of Norway?
Some of Houdini’s secrets are reviled. Did you know the rivets around his milk churn were fake, allowing him, an easy escape?
Where are the divorce papers of Henry VIII hidden?
My personal favorite is page 138 where we hear about Anastasia the Lost Princess. When the bodies of the murdered Romanov Czar and his family where found, the body of son, Alexei and a girl. This started the rumor one of the princesses escaped. Several claimed to be Anastasia, but the one who captured the most attention was Anna Anderson who was found in a hospital with memory loss in 1920. DNA matched against UK’s Duke of Edinburgh, the closest genetic relative to the Romanov’s proved she was not the lost princess. Even more interesting, measurements of the skull revealed a different princess may have either escaped or been lost.
This has endless possibilities for teens to discuss. Just pick a theory and go crazy. Farndon does not seem to try to really debunk theories; he merely offers the different opinions gathered over time. This is one for putting out on the table and saying to a group hanging out, “Hey guys, did you know….”