What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
I've been thinking about First Son's birthday post. (He'll soon be twelve.) I realized I have never written on the blog about his favorite book of the year. In What If?, the author devises thought experiments that nearly always end in the destruction of the earth and often the universe. First Son was first drawn in by the hilarious illustrations, but soon was reading the text in depth once, twice, three times, and finally enough times to memorize portions of it. We've checked it out so often from the library, I think we had it more than half the year.
First Son selected the chapter on whether you could light up the moon as much as the sun by shining lasers on it from earth as the basis for a speech to his friends. Despite excessive giggling (from the speech teacher's prospective), he conveyed the chapter to his friends well enough for them to understand it. They enjoyed it as much as he did!
I've already recommended this book to a few friends for their sixth and seventh grade boys, but Kansas Dad is the one who originally picked this book out at the library. He shared it with First Son only after reading it himself.
Star Wars, dinosaurs, space flight, baseball, ridiculous cartoons, nuclear power plants: It's all here. I'll never think of this book without remembering First Son giggling so hard he can barely read it out loud to us. Shhh...we bought Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words for his birthday, though it's hard to believe he'll like it more than What If?.