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Review: National Geographic’s ‘Weird But True!’ for iOS

Ever wonder what belly button lint consists of, how long it would take a sloth to travel a mile, or how many bacteria reside in your mouth? Even if you haven’t, chances are your students will be fascinated to discover the answers to these questions. National Geographic’s “Weird But True” titles have been perennial favorites of facthounds, and often, struggling readers. Now they can access this trivia on one of their favorite devices.

Title: Weird But True!
Author: National Geographic Society
Developed by:
National Geographic Society
iOS, requires 4.0 or later
Price: $1.99

Gr 2-7-Watching students trying to perform the nearly impossible when they are told “99% of people can’t lick their elbows (but 90% of people who read this will try)” is just some of the fun that results from sharing the National Geographic’s “Weird But True!” facts with children.

Swiping the screen (or some vigorous shaking) will load a new piece of trivia onto this app, and what child will be able to resist these intriguing snippets? Some are presented as text only in a variety of colorful fonts (a bit disappointing given the publisher’s usual graphics), but many of the facts come with amusing sound effects.

Additional interactive functions are available by tapping icons on the screen. After reading any number of statements, readers may be inclined to shout out “That’s weird!,” but they can also make an animal pop up and say it by pressing the dialogue icon. The heart icon will mark a fact as a “favorite” so readers can easily revisit it, circumventing the browsable “Fact-Finder” option. Using the “Weird-o-Meter,” allows readers to rate each item’s level of outrageousness, and then see what other users think (“Peanut butter can be converted into a diamond” has the most votes right now).  Since these wacky facts are made for sharing, the app has a convenient built-in emailing function.

Without enhancing existing print content with animations or videos, the straightforward Weird but True! app may not stand up to repeated viewing. However, it will  prompt curious kids to further explore the topics they discovered. To note: An option to purchase the “Weird but True!” series titles is available from the app.—Virginia McCreedy, Richmond Public Library, BC, Canada