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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Nine-year-old Jason is amazed at the fascinating history behind all the marvelous things he can do. For instance, he just received a tablet for his birthday. He did some research on tablets and learned that the first tablets were made of mud and were used about 3,000 years ago to tally stock or send messages to people in different communities. Jason likes to talk to his friends on the phone and he’s amazed to learn that the first international phone call was made in 1927. There are many fascinating facts about our planet and the history of everything we use. The most frightening part of our history, though, is how we abuse the environment and Jason has some sage advice to remedy that problem before it’s too late.
Ashok Bhaskaran’s picture book story, Did You Know?, is a clever way to make young readers think and learn about so many of the things we take for granted. The author takes things that he uses all the time, like his tablet, traveling by plane to distant places and talking on the phone, to point out that these are luxuries that didn’t always exist. Each new quest begins with the author describing something he enjoys doing, or he has recently done, and then he launches into an historic discussion, beginning with “But did you know…” He shares some interesting facts, some of which were new to me, like the 2,000-year-old dream to journey to the moon. Lucian of Samosata, a Syrian Greek, dreamed “about a boat with 50 people being blasted to the moon by a giant water sprout.” Such imagination! Wouldn’t that be an awesome way to travel to the moon? A very clever look at history, with beautiful, colorful illustrations.