The Encyclopedia of the Weird and Wonderful: Curious and Incredible Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

Wellfleet. Oct. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9781577153412. pap. $19.99. REF
Those wanting to know more about India’s hijras—or spout-bearing clay vessel relics, or how Bronze Age people made Tyrian purple dye—will find it here. Debut author/interdisciplinary scientist Rossi’s casual, entertaining writing brings to the fore slices of daily life from prehistorical times through the early 2000s. Ten short chapters, organized chronologically, encompass human behaviors around childhood, food, friendship, recreation, rituals, love, sex, fashion, beauty, education, health, illness, and death. That includes the development of specific objects (rattles; baby bottles; toys; Barbie dolls; hopscotch), customs (dowries; the wearing of wedding rings), and traditions (walkabouts; marriage; cremation; pet burials). Sidebars explore topics such as Tolima fighter jets, anaerobic environments, radiocarbon dating, and more. Colorful illustrations alternate with smaller, single-color (green, orange, black) images overlaid with black or white text that’s sometimes difficult to read. The bibliography is limited to internet resources, but there’s a detailed index. This resource makes an excellent companion to Stuff You Should Know and Lost Cities, Ancient Tombs.
VERDICT Emphasizing humanity’s history over the traditional time line with its model life stage organization, this intriguing and fascinating title is difficult to put down. It will appeal to both adults and younger students interested in trivia, facts, and history.
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