101 Things You Wish You'd Invented

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 May, 2008, 12:00am

101 Things You Wish You'd Invented

by Richard Horne and Tracey Turner

Bloomsbury, HK$112

This is a book for children but embedded within are nuggets that will surprise adults too. In the section on dynamite we learn that Alfred Nobel set up the Nobel Prizes only after reading a premature obituary published in 1888 by a French newspaper that said: 'The merchant of death is dead.' The paper may have made a mistake but it persuaded the Swede to rewrite his will and use his fortune to recognise work in physics, chemistry and peace, among other fields. The Chinese play a leading role in this volume, part of the 101 Things To Do series. Although no one knows who invented gunpowder, the earliest mention of the substance is in a book by a Chinese alchemist in AD142. Ancient Chinese were also enhancing their looks with makeup and paper money (called 'flying cash') was first used in China from the 800s. Put together by record-cover designer Richard Horne and Tracey Turner, author of non-fiction books for children such as Hodder's Disgusting Dictionary, this book is not only filled with fascinating information but also includes activities related to the subjects addressed: useful for children are the rules behind Pig Latin. Parents would do well to mug up on this secret code too.