Monday 25 April 2011

Review: That's So Gross series by Mitchell Symons

Boys love facts. And the more disgusting these facts are, the better. As I have mentioned on The Book Zone in the past, some of the most popular books in the school library are The Guiness Book of Records and Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Every break time there are groups of boys gathered around the various volumes of these that we have on the shelves, and sometimes we have to step in and encourage them to enjoy them in a slightly less rowdy manner, especially where Ripley's is concerned. Thus, when these four books arrived from the generous people at Random House I decided that before going through them myself I would put them to the test in the school library. We took the boys' favourites off the shelf for one break time and had these ready in their place, and then sat back to observe their reaction.

Their reaction spoke volumes. After the initial disappointment at the absence of their glossy, large format favourites they were soon gathered around in their groups, taking it in turns to flick through whichever book they had in search of the grossest fact they could find. Cue raucous laughter and non-stop giggling for the next twenty minutes - Mitchell Symons's That's So Gross books passed the test with flying colours!

If the name Mitchell Symons sounds familiar to you it is probably because he has won several awards for some of his previous fact-filled books, most notably the Best Book With Facts category of the Blue Peter Book Awards in both 2010 and 2011. The end of March saw the publication of his brand series, titled That's So Gross, consisting of four books aimed at the 7+ age range. The four books in the series each focus on a different theme: Human Body; Animals; Creepy Crawlies; and History, and they are all totally rammed full of facts that kids will find really cool and totally gross. And if I'm perfectly honest, I reckon a good number of adults will also have a lot of fun flicking though these - us Brits are world renowned for our fondness of toilet humour and these certainly deliver in that respect.

These books are aimed at the 7+ market, but they definitely have appeal to older children (the boys we tested them on in the library were 11/12 year olds). Some more conservative parents may be surprised at the content of these books as a handful of the facts might be deemed a little too 'extreme' for kids of this age, so if you feel that this might be a problem it is definitely worth having a quick read through these before giving them to your children. However, if this sort of thing doesn't bother you, or your children are a little older, these are perfect for journeys or holidays as not only are they great fun to read, they are also fairly small format and easily packed in a child's day bag. To find out more then why not pop over to Mitchell's Gross Books website at