Customer Reviews: Do Not Open
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on November 7, 2007
Do Not Open by John Farndon
DK's Eyewitness books have always been a favorite of mine. With their illustration rich pages and text sprinkled throughout like museum exhibit copy they offer an innovative way to learn. Rather than read a book straight through the user can jump around exploring the pictures and captions which catch his or her eye. In this way these books are very much like a visit to a museum.

This simple trick is something new to most school age children. Having always been required to read all of something, they delight in the chance to enjoy reading in a different way.

"Do Not Open" takes the DK style to a new level. The illustrations are so diverse and packed in they begin to feel frantic. This visual frenzy draws the reader in and forces him/her to want to read more and more. Illustration styles cover the gambit, from cartoons to photos to fine line drawing to comic book styles to collages. Page to page the style changes. This breakneck pace is only increased by the text. Unlike previous DK books I have enjoyed "Do Not Open" doesn't have large blocks of set text. Much of the reading floats around the pages in small quick spurts of information. Individual sets of pages can be read in seconds. Also, unlike previous DK books this book's theme is the diversity of the odd and quirky of the world. So, each page set is its own topic. Each time the reader turns a page they are reading something completely unrelated to what went before. However, at the bottom of each page set the reader is given pages to jump to in order to read about something related in so way shape or form. These page connections are very much like links on an Internet page and they allow a reader to "surf' this book. With these page "links" a reader can actually begin reading on any page and allow what attracts them to guide their book experience. Very innovative design work will make this book appeal to our digital generation who have never known a world without the web.

The content is also unique. In some ways it reminded me of the old "Ripley's Believe It or Not" books. It ranges from art to history and science to spies. A great deal of ground is covered and loads of interesting trivia is revealed.

I can only suggest one improvement if the book is revised in the future. I would have liked to have had suggested further readings. These suggestions could be web sites, books, or both, but I often found myself wanting to know more about the topics and the book didn't give me anywhere else to go to fill this hunger. That's a pretty minor issue but still one I would hope would be resolved in the future.

All in all this is a great book and will appeal to young readers between 9 and 14 and possibly even older. It certainly appealed to this reader and I haven't seen those ages in quite a long time.
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VINE VOICEon November 30, 2007
A compilation of weird and wonderful trivia illustrated with what must be thousands of fun and whimsical images, this outstanding book is a great bathroom read. Each subject is covered with a just a paragraph or two, and there are so many topics! Randomly flipping open the pages I find info about Mark Felt's secret identity as Watergate's Deep Throat, the Rosetta Stone, spontaneous combustion, Elvis' secret identity as "Jon Burrows," the secrets behind common magic tricks, "Top Tips for Breaking The Time Barrier", the tribes of the rain forest... I could go on forever.

Usually books like this seem thrown together, with out-of-date info and cheap graphics. This one is just the opposite. What I especially like is the variety of art. The credits page lists 12 illustrators; it seems like about a hundred.

By the way, the book doesn't look like the image shown above. That's its reflective silver storage box. The book cover, which you see peeking out behind the bars, is a colorful collage of the various art inside. True to the spirit of the book's title, the box has a magnetic hinge, which makes it difficult to open.

It has a companion title, Pick Me Up.
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on December 12, 2007
My daughter enjoys reading interesting facts and trivia, so I ordered this book as a Christmas present after reading such good reviews for it here. However, unlike the other reviewers, I was disappointed when the book arrived. I found this book a little too 'dark' - serial criminals, grisly crimes and murders, spooky places, mysterious hauntings and happenings. A little TOO macabre for my taste; and it'll definitely give my daughter the hibbie-jibbies.

I also question what's in this book; are these authenticated facts, or do they tend to lean toward the 'urban legend' version (just to make it spookier)?

Lastly, some of the print in this book rivals the finest fine print in the best legal documents. You might be advised to order a magnifying glass to go with it. I've returned the book to amazon.
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on January 15, 2008
Do Not Open We purchased this book for our two male grandchildren, one is 15 and the other is 8 years of age. They both enjoy the book tremdenously, and I was told it gets dragged all over the house and constantly being used. They challenge each other with information from the book. I am very happy with this selection and wish there were other books like this one to make the kids leave the video games and sit down and read a book and use their imagination.
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on December 21, 2007
Do Not Open is an oversized, shiny full-color encyclopedia of the world's best-kept secrets. Dorling Kindersley (now just DK Publishing as a division of Penguin Group USA) made their mark with copiously illustrated hardbound texts on a variety of non-fiction subjects, and Do Not Open is a cornucopia of illustrations, diagrams, photographs, charts, maps, and more. It's got terrifically legible fine print and they manage to pack more than 250 pages into its slim profile, while retaining the famous DK page sheen and durability.

Do Not Open is a book meant to be read in hops, skips, and jumps, so the author includes "How to Use" instructions at the beginning. Readers are encouraged to open to a page and then use the "want to know more?" text at the bottom to explore related subjects. A chart on the "How to Use" page spread shows how one could get from the first page of the book to the last in six easy hops - but every reader's journal will be personal. "In time, you can probably work your way through the whole book!"

I highly recommend Do Not Open as a gift book for children ages 8 - 12. I wish I was a child again, so I could hole up in my room with this delightful treasure and then maybe even teach my parents some new facts.
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on December 12, 2007
This book is perfect for kids who love to read short articles about stuff. Think "Bathroom reader" series for kids. It comes in a box and the cover looks like an iron door with open slats showing the book. It even has a magnetic closure on the "door". It is filled with interesting facts in a comic book way and bright pictures. I would recommend this to any child (or adult) that enjoys reading almanacs.
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This is a clever and attractive book, chock-a-block with fascinating tidbits of information. Unsolved crimes, treasure maps, computer hacking, spying, the Bermuda Triangle, Houdini, the Knights Templar -- all told, there are hours of entertaining reading in this book.

The cover design of the silver box containing the book grabbed my son's attention right away. Great packaging! I do think, though, that he was a little put off by the parade of pages sporting tiny, tiny type. For me (of a certain age!), it was hard to read. For him, the dense blocks of type, and the sometimes puzzling order of some trails of thought, discouraged him. He's willing to read, but the smallest thing can put him off a book. Another child might be happy to pore over every word.

The book provides an amusing way to soak up both world and pop culture, everything from ancient Egypt to Elvis. As an Anglophile, I noted some UK-centric leanings -- a two-page spread on a crime involving Lord Lucan and nothing on the Salem witch trials, for example. But that didn't stop me from enjoying the book. I'm always up for learning something new. The subject matter might be a little dicey for young children -- Marilyn Monroe's death scene, vampires and werewolves, haunted houses -- so flip through the book before you hand it to your child. Children have differing levels of sensitivity.

If you like this genre of attractively illustrated books in which information is meted out in tantalizing bits simply to whet a child's appetite for more -- I've heard it described as "coffee table books for children" -- I would recommend a series of books titled Cool Stuff by Chris Woodford (Cool Stuff and How It Works,Cool Stuff 2.0: And How it Works,Cool Stuff Exploded) and books by Ben Hillman (How Fast Is It?,How Weird Is It? How Big Is It?,How Strong Is It?).
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on January 16, 2012
My 11 year old borrowed this book from his school library. He was intrigued and read most of the book to me, but there was so much information, diagrams and information that lead you into a new topic. I had to read it myself. I decided to order it for our own use. Not most books can capture subjects that interest the both of us. Family shared.
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on March 10, 2008
Great book for kids and adults who want to unlock the secrets behind popular mysteries and agencies from the present and past.
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on February 20, 2011
I bought this for my son (now 8, at the time 7). He reads it nearly everyday and I heard from the back of the car, "My Do Not Open book's cover broke." I would not say, however, it is the fault of the book, but rather a sign of how well loved it is.

It has inspired some interesting conversations about critical thinking (it tends to lean towards the fantastic, but always ends on a "what do you think" note).

Personally, I find the layout overwhelming, with lots of graphics, text interwoven - it is a visual feast. It works for my son, however, and that is what's important.
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