Cosmic Q& A

Munroe, R. (2014). What if? New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Genre: Nonfiction, humor

Intended audience: Geeks of all ages; some of the humor will be lost on young readers

Personal reaction to the book: It’s a little like Mythbusters, only on an untestable scale. Munroe muses about or what ifanswers readers’ often impossible questions (What would happen if a batter tried to hit a fastball moving at 90 percent of the speed of light? Could you live on a tiny but supermassive asteroid like the Little Prince?) using hard science, but with his tongue firmly in his cheek.

The stick-figure art adds a surprising amount, usually to the humor, as do the formulas (formulae?*), charts and footnotes. It’s funny, informative and is a great book for kids whose inquiring minds aren’t satisfied by routine education. Highly, highly recommended.

Author facts: Randall Munroe is a scientist by training, having worked on NASA robotics in Langley, Virginia. His favorite astronomical entity is the Pleiades. He is now drawing and writing full-time.

Related website: http://xkcd.com

* You’ll get it if you read the book.

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