Saturday, August 08, 2009

Strange But True, America

by John Hafnor

Fun, informative and surprising tales from each of America's 50 states. Great reading for kids of any age. Candleman and I (both over 50) are enjoying it immensely.

Does anyone else have 'bathroom books'? Those books that have short chapters and are great for a semi-quick read. Well, this book is a perfect bathroom book.

Each story is only 1 page long with a corresponding 1 page picture. Here's an example of one of the pictures.
The story that goes with it is about Al Capone and his lawyer, Easy Eddie. You can read the whole story and get an idea of how the book is structured at the Strange But True, America site. This page also tells about the namesake for Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

The subject matter is very diverse - from an accidental bomb dropped on American soil to questions about the Transcontinental Railroad to the quietest square foot of land to the beginning days of Nike shoes.

My favorite story is on p.38 'Mountain Mail Mania'. Utah witnessed the largest item ever mailed: a bank building. In 1916 W.H. Coltharp began constructing a bank in Vernal, Ut. That's my hometown! Freight charges would cost 4X the cost of each brick so he had the bricks bundled 10 to a box and had them mailed to Vernal. The bank still stands at the main intersection in Vernal.

Also on that page is the story of a 4-yr-old girl who was mailed to her grandmother. She made the 75 mile trip in the baggage car of a train. I actually am familiar with both the bank story and the girl mailed from Utah to Idaho to see her grandmother. A Vernal resident and fellow classmate, Michael O. Tunnel wrote a book called Mailing May that won many awards back in the late 1990s.

Back to my review on Strange But True, America: Towards the back of the book is an interesting section titled 'When Doomsday Came Calling In Your State' which tells about "almost" disastrous events. And it hosts an index so you can easily look up your state or that article you wanted to share with someone. I like a book with an index!

A really fun book. Check out the website: for more information, plus a video of the author sharing some strange but true tales. There are also some education resources and a contest.


Literary Feline said...

This does sound like a fun book. I don't have a "bathroom book" per say, rather, I'm more likely to read a magazine when want to read something in short spurts, for those in between moments and such. I've been trying to integrate short stories into this spot but am having mixed results.

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

This one looks fun!

Myke Weber said...

Holy Cow! I never new Tunney was so prolific in his writing career. Mailing May looks so fun, have you got it?

I agree that Strange But True America is a lot of fun!

Marie Cloutier said...

I love it. Sounds like a great book for the trivia fan- like one of those you leave on the coffee table and read a little of every now and then. :-)

Framed said...

This sounds like one of those that I emailed for a review copy. Wonder if I will ever get it. Or I just come over and look at yours.

serendipity_viv said...

I definitely want to read this one. I am presently reading Stephen Fry's book America, which is a travel journal of his journey through all the states in an English taxi. This book would definitely compliment it.

Anna said...

Sounds like an interesting book that you could pick up and read here and there.

Diary of an Eccentric

Jeanette said...

I do like the sound of this book! I will have to track down a copy. Thanks.