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A Really Short History of Nearly Everything Hardcover – October 27, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Bryson offers a kid-friendly version of his popular-science compendium for adults, A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003), in this illustrated trip through, well, nearly everything. His enthusiasm is apparent right from the foreword, where he proclaims that “there isn’t anything in existence—not a thing—that isn’t amazing and interesting when you look into it.” He proceeds to back up this statement as he whirls through mind-numbing notions such as the creation of the universe and the life-span of an atom with good cheer and accessible, even exciting, writing. The two-page spreads meander their way through the various recesses of science with a combination of explanatory prose, historical anecdotes, wry asides, and illustrations that range from helpful to comical. Absent are source notes to back up Bryson’s many claims (or any other back matter aside from an index, photo credits, and a list of Bryson’s adult books). That isn’t to say he shouldn’t be trusted, but readers should take this for what it is: irreverent and illuminating edutainment, good for the science-phobic and -centric alike. Grades 5-8. --Ian Chipman

Review

"Brims with strange and amazing facts . . . destined to become a modern classic of science writing."
-"The New York Times"
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1190L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 169 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385738102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385738101
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.7 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For almost half of her 7.5 years, our daughter has gone to sleep as her mother delivers a lecture. Not the kind of lecture that follows bad behavior --- our kid just prefers facts to fiction. And so her mother gives a nightly discourse called "Bore Me to Sleep."

Our child knows that no policeman can enter the apartment and take Daddy's computer without a warrant. She knows about the banking crisis (though she prefers to believe that some financial instruments are called "high-heeled munis" and "credit default flops") why the seasons change, how your digestive system works, what fashion designers do, how everything is made of the same atoms, the movement of a bill through the House and Senate --- she's been exposed to a ton of random information.

She could easily be Bill Bryson's child.

Bryson got interested in how the world worked in the 4th or 5th grade, when an illustration in a textbook --- the Earth, with a wedge removed --- caught his interest. It would be nice to report that the book ignited lifelong learning. But it was a standard-issue textbook, not at all exciting. So it wasn't until he was a famous writer (author of a funny memoir called The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid and the even funnier A Walk in the Woods) that he wondered again how the world worked.

A few years and 475 pages later, he produced A Short History of Nearly Everything. My wife devoted a summer to it and read every word. I flunked Science repeatedly in school; it's enough for me to know that some important event occurred 500 million years ago.

Now he's created A Really Short History of Nearly Everything, and he's done me --- and you, and every curious kid burdened by a dull textbook or a brain-dead science teacher --- a huge favor.
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Format: Hardcover
Bill Bryson is not an author I've encountered before, though he's definitely one I'll be going back to. A Really Short History of Nearly Everything was originally published for adults back in 2003 and this particular version has just recently been adapted for kids. I didn't read the original, but this adapted version is awesome!

Though he doesn't really give you a short history of everything in the world, he does hit on main scientific points in history, such as what happened to dinosaurs, why the oceans are salty, how heavy the earth is, chain of life, genetics, planets, weather, atoms, asteroids, etc, etc, etc. Bryson then gives a short, simple explanation which reads very much like a story would, in a nice flowing manner. Not boring and scientific at all, which is a definite plus when it comes to non-fiction books for kids.

Filled with illustrations and photographs that accompany facts that are short and to-the-point. This would be a great resource for a classroom, homeschool setting, or library, especially while teaching different units. A great supplemental material.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My book club accidentally put the "really" in the title of the book they meant to choose, the adult version, "A Short History of Nearly Everything." I thoroughly enjoyed the young people's version. I learned a lot and re-learned things I'd forgotten from years-ago science classes. Plan to pass this along to my grandson. The book's two-page chapters make it perfect for a quick bedtime lesson or science report.
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Format: Hardcover
Science, to many school-aged children, seems boring and
difficult. Most do not realize how extremely important and
amazing it really is. Bryson explored many different
topics ranging from the birth of the universe to dinosaurs
and many others. From his point of view, the Big Bang was
the start of the universe, and it only took one ten-
millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth
of a second to happen. Another explored topic was Newton
and his laws of motion. Incorporating silly cartoon
pictures and stories, Bill Bryson gives a rather detailed
but short history of the science of the world.

My favorite subject to study is science. I am always
asking "why" and "how." For any science lover, A Really
Short History of Nearly Everything is perfect. Bryson
writes in a humorous manner, but he is extremely
informative. I love the book's organization and how there
are countless pictures and extra pieces of information on
the sides of pages. The vocabulary fits perfectly with the
subject matter, and unfamiliar terms are defined finely.
The book covers many different aspects of science and does
so fluently. The only thing that I would improve about the
book is making it longer or having "part-two"!

Reviewed by a young adult student reviewer
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Written for teenagers. There is much interesting information, presented in a balanced manner, about basic science theories and their development. The scientists and their eccentricites are described. All written in an enjoyable manner. The biggest fault is that the associated cartoon drawings appear more appropriate for a forth grader, and the text for an eight grader. Still, I enjoyed it, even though I am a retired scientist.
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