YIKES! We’re down to just 10 shopping days until Christmas. No need to panic with these last minute gifts from the talented folks at NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS. First up is a fun page-turner:

Weird But True! Christmas: 300 Festive Facts to Light Up the Holidays — (ages 8-12, 208pages) The PERFECT stocking stuffer! Ready for some totally festive facts? Even Christmas can be weird — it’s true! Did you know that Santa’s reindeer are probably all female? Or that artificial snow can be made from seaweed? Or that “Jingle Bells” was the first Christmas carol sung in space? Every kid will ho ho ho when they unwrap this book that is chocked full of the most random and fascinating facts about their most favorite holiday.

Filled with colorful pictures and some pretty weird facts from all over the world, the handy size (6.5 inches x 6.5 inches) would be perfect for the long ride to grandma’s house. I was either shaking my head or laughing at the strange facts surrounding one of our most beloved holidays. This will become one of your favorite go to books every December.

Keep the holidays merry and bright with a dose of laughter in my second recommendation:

 Just Joking Jumbo — (ages 7-10, 288 pages)  What do you get when you have 1,000 giant jokes and 1,000 funny photos?  A stocking stuffer that adds up to some seriously big laughs! If you have a budding stand up comedian on your list this year – this is the perfect book for them.  Knock-knocks, puns, riddles, tongue-twisters, photos of silly situations and even the craziest info about the history of funny business – it’s all here!

Most so-called joke books have pages of jokes spread out in text form. Not so here. Arranged in ten chapters from Far-out Space Silliness to Jokes You Can Count On, the pages are colorful and the pictures give it a whole new level of hilarity. There’s even some animal facts thrown is as some of our most endearing creatures on earth deliver the knock-knock jokes.

You’ll groan at some of the jokes, LOL at many others, but you’ll keep coming back for more. This one is great for road trips or holiday flights to the relatives. It could very well be the gift the kids go to first after all the packages are open.

Great holiday gift #3:

Bet You Didn’t Know: Fascinating, Far-Out, Fun-tastic Facts – (ages 8-12, 192 pages) “…the whole outing is really tailor-made for dipping and flipping at random….A bodacious wellspring of random knowledge.”— Starred review, Kirkus Reviews. BIG, packed with gorgeous photos and illustrations and guaranteed to keep kids occupied for hours and hours, Bet You Didn’t Know is the perfect holiday gift for the fact-lover or for your kid’s favorite teacher’s classroom. Did you know that the first stop signs were black and white? Or that a litter of kittens is called a kindle? Or that butterflies can see more colors than humans can?  Based on a favorite department in Nat Geo Kids magazine, this book is overflowing with fascinating facts, silly stats, and catchy little knowledge nuggets in all kinds of cool categories, from astronomy and sea creatures to revolutions and breakfast. Special features include Extreme Weirdness, Strange Places, Wacky World, and more.

The team of writers, editors, photo editors, and designers make a bold statement in the back of this impressive collection of facts: They call themselves the greatest book team around! I’d have to agree.

More than 80 categories of facts are put forth with bold photos and descriptions in never boring layouts. You’ll be turning the pages and the massive book to get a look at all the fun facts. Most of the categories have ten facts arranged across a two-page spread, but there are also sidelights into strange places like the “Ice” Castle, a Stone City, and a City in the Sky.

This one is great for the classroom, on the coffee table, or in the back seat of the car. It’s 2.6 pounds of facts you can’t stop reading—and that’s a fact! Don’t miss out!

And the final holiday selection brought me to a quick realization that I don’t know as much as I thought about dinosaurs:

Ultimate Dinopedia – (ages 7-10, 296 pages) Attention dinosaur fanatics! This is a big, gift-worthy hardcover that is also the most complete and comprehensive dinosaur reference ever. Although these amazing creatures roamed the Earth ages ago, new dinosaur discoveries are still being made today.  The new edition includes favorites, like the fierce T-rex and the gentle Brontosaurus, plus audacious new finds, like the Anzu, Kosmoceratops, and Yi. Every dino profile is colorfully illustrated and features descriptions of when they roamed the Earth, how they lived, what they ate, and more. There are more than 600 dinos featured in all, including 10 profiles of recently discovered dinosaurs and new entries in the Dino Dictionary. Reports from paleontologists present the latest news and insights from the field.

Ultimate is the perfect word to describe this dino-sized reference book. It opens with DISCOVERING DINOSAURS and it had me enthralled from the start. Featuring more than 20 sections devoted to the life of a dinosaur from beginning to the end. The DINOSAUR FAMILY TREE was especially helpful to prepare me for the learning that makes up most of the ‘pedia.

Part two and three take a look at the dinosaurs in two different groups: The Ornithischians (bird-hipped dinosaurs) and Saurischians (Lizard-hipped dinosaurs). In all there are more than 80 two-page spreads with a stunning illustrations. A fact box, pronunciation guide, and a nifty 1-3 paragraph description accompany the image. An example is  the YANGCHUANOSAURUS, one of the biggest terrors of its time at 36 feet and may have weighed 4,000 pounds!

The final part is a complete dino-dictionary. At your fingertips is an alphabetical guide to the important information on over 600 dinosaurs. A fantastic achievement by itself.

School libraries, dinosaur loving kids, and science teachers will find the DINOPEDIA a source they can’t be without. It makes a great gift, too.

Coming up next week is another MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count–but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you’re featuring and a link to your blog at gpcolo (at) gmail (dot) com

 (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and for spreading the middle grade love!

*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in non fiction, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Denise V. says:

    Thanks for the super reviews. I just ordered the Christmas book!

  2. Some great books for kids. I really like National Geographic books. Bought two for my 4 -year-old great grandson for Christmas — dinosaur and an ocean book for “young children.” The dinosaur book you mentioned is a little bit soon for him, but I should purchase it so I have it for later. He loves dinosaurs and knows all their names.

  3. I just love books like these, and I think NatGeo always does a great job with them. Thanks for telling me about these. I will probably pick up a couple of them.

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