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Fun B.C. Facts for Kids

by Mark Zuehlke

This is a book that is hard to read silently: the reader keeps wanting to ask people within earshot if they knew that more plants and animals live in Vancouver Island rain forest than in the Amazon jungle, or that Ripple Rock sank more than 120 ships and smaller boats before it was blown up in 1958. B.C.’s remarkable diversity provides fine material for this book of “fun facts.” Zuehlke, author of The B.C. Fact Book for adults, has generally managed to keep his facts fun, organizing topographical, botanical, zoological, ethnographical, and historical material into a lively format that is visually interesting and reader-friendly. Chapters like “Catastrophic Nature,” Mysterious Creatures” and “A Kaleidoscope of People” are brief, frequently surprising, and likely to hold the attention of young readers. Comparisons help make the facts meaningful: the vertical drop at Takakkaw Falls is nearly 10 times as great as Niagara Falls’, and a blue whale is as long as two semi-trailer trucks parked in a line.

Some “facts” are more slippery than others, of course, and when Zuehlke deals with human history and issues, his interpretations are sometimes open to question. An important section on the internment of the Japanese in B.C. during World War II, for example, is marred by the assertion that the war was “used as an excuse” to take away their property. The statement on page two that about three quarters of the province stands 3000 metres or more above sea level is surely a misprint – only some mountain peaks achieve this height.

Zuehlke’s humorous drawings add much to the appeal of the book; the same cannot be said for all of the photographs, however. Although the historical ones are particularly interesting, some landscape and underwater photos have not reproduced well and could have made the book look drab if it hadn’t been for the lively drawings around them. Sweets lovers will be pleased to find that Fun B.C. Facts for Kids includes B.C.’s most popular recipe: Nanaimo Bars.