Friday, January 12, 2018

The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary--What a Terrifically Cool Book!

Hey, guys, did you see The Last Jedi? What a silly question--of course you've seen it! This is just about the perfect GUY movie!! Epic space battles! Super-speed vehicles! Outnumbered good guys taking on massive amounts of bad guys! And a handsome. cocky good guy insulting a powerful bad guys right to his face! (witness the early scene when Poe Dameron calls General Hux "General Hugs") Plus, to keep this from being just an empty action movie, there are characters who gain (and lose) wisdom through hard choices. So, yes, even if you're not a Star Wars fan, this movie is you, guys, and I'm sure you've already seen it. If you haven't, then don't read any further. Stop whatever you're doing and go.



OK, if you've got to do homework or celebrate your grandmother's birthday, then I'll make an exception. Otherwise---


The Last JediOK, while they're out watching the movie, let's talk about a terrific book based on that movie. It's The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary by Pablo HidlagoEvery time a new Star Wars movie comes out, DK Publishers puts out one of these Visual Dictionaries and every one of them is great. They have lots of cool photos of the people, spaceships, creatures, equipment, weapons, etc. from that movie along with captions that explain a lot about that person, spaceship, piece of equipment, etc. Plus this book has a section that fills in what has happened between the last movie and this one, a very cool map of the galaxy and the backstories of the characters. That means you get to learn a lot of great info like:

  • What did Luke Skywalker do between the fall of the Empire and his training of new Jedi?
  • What does General Hux literally have up his sleeve?
  • Why do those skimmers leave red trails on the surface of Crait?
  • Where did Captain Phasma get her armor?
  • How many layers of fur does a Wookie have?
  • And what exactly are those thingies in the breast pockets of First Order officers  that look like pens?

You'll find out this plus a whole lot more!! This is one terrific book and you'll have lots of fun with it. And the best part is that you DON'T have to start at the beginning and go straight through. You can jump around and look at whatever interests you and take as much time doing that as you like--though I bet you're going to want to read the entire book at some point. So run to your local library and get a copy--NOW!!

Give the Seal of Approval as One Terrific Book, the Iron Guy Does

Sunday, January 7, 2018

It's a New Year--Believe It or Not!

Happy New Year, everybody! 2018 is here and there are a lot of exciting things that will happen in this blog over the next few months. There are a lot of books I want to tell you about, I'm going to help some other bloggers choose the best nonfiction of 2017 and the Iron Guy, in truly MANLY fashion, will confront one of his worst fears.  Yes, it's going to be a lot of fun here--but let me get into that another time. I've got a couple of cool books to talk about.

The first is Ripley's Believe or Not! Out of This World Edition 2018
Ripley's Believe It Or Not!Guys really enjoy these types of books--you know the Guinness Book of World Records or the Weird But True Facts, which are full of fun, strange, goofball or unbelievable bits of fascinating information. Well, this one can stand there with all the others. There are some pretty weird facts here, like:
  • Dinosaurs actually swallowed rocks. Why? Look at page 56 to find out!
  • Who Mario in Mario Cart was named after. (p.24)
  • The cockroach artist (p. 68) and what's unusual about penguin mouths (p.72)
  • The man who does yoga on a BMX bicycle--on a cliff 300 feet above the ground! (p.80)
It's a lot of fun to go through this book and see all the unusual things in here but the great thing about Ripley's Believe It or Not is that you're not required to believe everything you read. Of course, the editors really want you to believe what you see in this book and everything looks like it could be real. That's why they call it Believe It or Not! But sometimes you just gotta wonder. For example, on page 47, there's a picture of a pink grasshopper. Could it be real? I'm sure it could but---what if it's just a photographic trick? Should you believe it? Or not? That's the great thing about this book--you gotta take a look and decide!

Well, reading this book just led me naturally to this next one, Who Was Robert Ripley? by Kirsten Anderson. We all know how great these Who Was...? and What Was...? books are and I've talked about several of them before. (see the Who Was... label under this post to find past reviews) This was a terriific book , taken from a terrific true-life story.
Young Roy Ripley had everything going against him. Born in 1890, he developed big front teeth that stuck out, making it hard for him to talk, and was funny-looking with big ears. You can imagine how the other kids treated him. Yet he had three great passions--sports, particularly baseball, a talent for drawing and a collection of weird facts. Against the odds, he took his talent to big cities to work for newspapers and to pitch baseball--but during his first pro game, his arm broke! So he turned to his drwaing and during a slow season for sports, pulled out his collection of weird facts--like the man who swam the English Channel on a mattress! He published his first collection of cartoons and strange facts in 1918 and they became a hit! Eventually, his "Believe It or Not" feature became not only a nation-wide hit but part of American life. But this is more than a typical inspirational story--this book is really interesting, showing not only his life story but lots of cool stuff about his times. And lots of weird facts, like the woman who rode skates on her hands! Was everything he said true? Well...often it was but it often depended on how he worded things. Check out his statement that "Lindbergh was the 67th person to cross the Atlantic" and you'll see what I meant. Was it true? Yes...but...
Guys, you gotta read this! Like all the Who Was.. books, they are good, full of fascinating information, have good timelines in the back and can be read quickly.
(PS--I remember reading these features as a boy and they are still publishing Believe It or Not features today! And there are Believe It or Not Odditoriums across the world. Check their website at

All right. This looks like it will be a good year for reading, so the Iron Guy wishes you Happy Reading in 2018---

---and a MANLY New Year!