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Book Review: IDW’s 2012 Book of Extreme Facts by Matt Forbeck and Kris Oprisko

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IDW Publishing have been responsible for some of the coolest comic reprints I have ever seen. Their collections of early Felix The Cat, Blondie, and Polly and Her Pals strips are simply beautiful coffee-table books. One of the great joys I have had as a parent has been sharing some of these with my 12 year old son. But IDW is in no way limited to simply reprinting classic comics. Their yearly Book of Extreme Facts is a perennial best-seller, and the 2012 edition may be their best yet.

I will have the definitive answer to that question will come Christmas morning, when my son unwraps his copy. I sure am glad he never reads my reviews, because Dad could not resist opening this up and looking through it. For starters there is the cover, which is one of the best uses of old-school 3-D photography I have ever seen. It just pops right out at you, and is irresistible.

The 11 chapters inside are just as compelling. They include bite-sized bits about sports, weather, animals, machines, the ancient world, and (naturally enough) games and entertainment, among other subjects. Each short entry is accompanied by pictures – either actual photos, or detailed drawings.

With so much fascinating information at hand it is hard to know where to begin. Open the book to any random page, and something is bound to catch your eye. In the “Extreme Records” chapter I found this amusing item; The record for the most people to pop bubble wrap at once is 1,456 – it happened at the Meadowlands State Fair in New Jersey, and the grand total is said to be 2.4 million bubbles popped.

Gaming fans may be intrigued to discover that the very first computer game was created back in 1949. The game? Tic-Tac-Toe. Speaking of computers, the first one is said to have been designed by Charles Babbage in 1821 – although it was not completed in his lifetime due to a lack of funds. His original design was actually built many, many years later – in 2002 to be exact.

Although the 2012 Book of Extreme Facts is obviously designed for younger readers, I speak from experience in saying that there is plenty of fascinating material here for parents as well. When discussing the largest creature on Earth, most people would say the blue whale. But if we include plants in this category, there is one living organism that simply boggles the mind. There is is a mushroom called the Armillaria ostoyae, growing underground in Oregon that is estimated to be four square miles in size, and 8,650 years old.

This is the type of fun (and informative) material the 2012 Book of Extreme Facts is filled with. Once again, IDW have come up with something that both kids and their parents can enjoy together.

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