Ken Jennings


March 10, 2014

Arthur Chu is back on Jeopardy! tonight…and now in double digits, win-wise. I call him Art Chu, as in “Art Chu glad Twitter wasn’t around back when I was on that show?” I recently chatted about Arthur with my friends at Slate’s Hang Up and Listen podcast, and was asked about the perils of game show fame for this New Yorker blog post.

But enough about promoting that guy who doesn’t even have anything to promote yet! What about my needs? I’m glad you asked. The Junior Genius Guides just got a very nice starred review from Booklist, which I am nowhere near modest enough to not quote below:

The new Junior Genius Guide series kicks off with a stellar collection of facts about climate, national flags, maps, and more, all in an engaging, arch tone. Jeopardy! champ and author Jennings, making his foray into books for children, arranges the trivia in chapters that lightly satirize a school-day schedule, including a “lunch period” offering an ingenious and easy recipe for an edible map, a craft project in “art class,” and an official certification exam before the “dismissal bell.” Cartoon illustrations, inset boxes, and Jennings’ jokey patter break each fact-stuffed page into delicious wonder-bites, each as satisfying as the next: Papua New Guinea’s flag was designed by a 15-year-old; a fear of maps is called cartophobia; the largest country with no permanent lake or river is Saudi Arabia; and so on. This is no mere list, however: games, pop quizzes (including an encoded answer key and cipher to solve it), jokes, mnemonic devices, and even suggestions for field trips will pull in any young trivia fan. Lowery’s black-and-white spot illustrations help explain concepts, such as cartographic projections, and add the overall levity, making this a successful nonfiction package as well as pure reading fun. Published simultaneously with the second in the series, Greek Mythology.

If this sounds like the kind of “pure reading fun” you want for you or a loved one, shop for the Junior Genius Guides at a local bookstore, or online here.

Posted by Ken at 8:42 pm