The A to Z of Everyday Things


Why are Americans superstitious about two-dollar bills?
Why do we have twelve months in a year instead of ten, or six, or even twenty?
Why do we celebrate foolishness on the first day of April?
Why is yawning contagious?
Why is the number thirteen considered to be unlucky in so many different cultures?

The A to Z of Everyday Things...

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The A to Z of Everyday Things

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Why are Americans superstitious about two-dollar bills?
Why do we have twelve months in a year instead of ten, or six, or even twenty?
Why do we celebrate foolishness on the first day of April?
Why is yawning contagious?
Why is the number thirteen considered to be unlucky in so many different cultures?

The A to Z of Everyday Things tells the surprising stories behind twenty-six seemingly ordinary objects and activities. From calendars and money to tulips and sideburns, this book uses commonplace items to explore the rich but often overlooked cultural history of our everyday lives. In the end, The A to Z of Everyday Things offers us a picture of modern life and how we got here in a funny, quirky, and highly readable form.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From the "Alphabet" (and language itself) to "Zero" (and the numerical system), The A to Z of Everyday Things by Janice Weaver, illus. by Francis Blake, offers insight into the quotidian staples society takes for granted. Luxury items such as "Lipstick," which dates back to 3000 B.C. ("No discussion of kissing would be complete [without it]"), sits alongside necessities like "Money" (the author provocatively asserts, "We are close to living in what is called a cashless society"). The chatty tone and humorous line drawings will carry readers through all 26 entries. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This modest book roams through the known world picking and choosing fascinating bits for the reader's consideration. It begins with the Alphabet, Black, and Calendars. Lipstick tells us what Egyptians chose to use for makeup and proceeds to the far less nauseous concoctions we use today, pausing to solicit men's opinions that lipstick makes lips less kissable. "I" gives us ice cream and notes about Marco Polo's bringing recipes for ice cream back from China. The author notes America's favorite flavors and points out that Japan's flavors include wasabi and octopus flavors. The book makes for interesting pick-up reading and Frances Blake's sketches lend a light look. Other fascinating tidbits include three-page segments on Forks, Money, Pretzels, Valentines, and Zero. It is just the right thing for teachers who want to read aloud a short bit to middle- or high-school students to enlighten a history or English class. For the rest of us, it is an easy way to learn a little bit more about the world. 2004, Tundra Books, Ages 10 to 14.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-This compendium offers 26 chapters, each representing, however loosely, a letter of the alphabet. B is for black, W is for white. Disparate subjects include ice cream, Queen's English, pretzels, and lipstick. X, a litmus test, really, for any alphabet book, explains all about Xeroxing. Short chapters (none more than six pages long) are packed with information that goes beyond the subjects at hand. For example, to get the lowdown on equinoxes, readers are led to the chapter on Easter by the handy and necessary index. A patron wants to know about Lupercalia festival? It's in the Valentine section. Gray-tone cartoons are humorous, as evidenced by the gentleman shown in the chapter on sideburns. Small, dark sidebars further entice readers with trivia. A Victorian woman, for example, might wear about a dozen different undergarments. Language style is friendly and not too difficult. An extensive bibliography is appended. While not critically essential, this is a fun and interesting choice for all, but most especially for devotees of the 031 section.-Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887766718
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 10.01 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Janice Weaver has been working with books all her life – first as an editor, and now as a writer. Her first book, Building America, was named a Notable Book by the International Reading Association and also appeared on the New York Public Library’s 2002 Books for the Teenage List. Her second book, From Head to Toe, was published in the fall of 2003 to equal acclaim.

Francis Blake has been an illustrator for as long as he can remember, and his artwork appears in magazines, books, and advertising campaigns across North America, Europe, and the Far East. His original paintings and drawings are in private collections as far apart as Melbourne, Toronto, and Wigan. Francis Blake lives in London, England with an increasingly demanding and occasionally very bad-tempered cat.

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