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Books for Tweens: UNBORED by Joshua Glenn & Elizabeth Foy Larsen

A major highlight for me when it comes to attending BlogWorld (now called NMX, short for New Media Expo) in New York City is that Book Expo America takes place at the same time, in the same building AND your pass for NMX also grants you access to Book Expo. Books and Blogging, all day, for three days — How can I NOT attend?!

This year, I took only one carry-on bag and it was half-full to allow space for books on the way home. So, although there were a TON of books being handed out freely, I was very selective. And yet, at least 50% of what I brought home was for tweens.

I guess I have my daughter Stella on my mind. I can clearly recall being her age (she’s going into grade 5 next year) and spending the summer gorging myself on books! It was serious heaven. So as I looked around the Book Expo floor, I couldn’t help but keep an eye out for anything that might appeal to her.

You’ll need to check out the Book Expo America site itself to really get a feel for HOW much takes place (it’s fairly mind-blowing), but if I can sum it up quickly for you, I’d say it’s a place where book publishers can introduce their new offerings to libraries, book stories, book reviewers, school boards, and international distributors. For this reason, many advance copies of books are distributed to attendees.

Source: Book Expo America Facebook Page

Of these advance copies, I chose to take home a book called UNBORED: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun, to be published by Bloomsbury in October 2012. To describe it would be to say it’s in the same vein as that best-selling book The Dangerous Book for Boys and its later side-kick The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls. Except without all of the vomit-inducing gender stereotyping. But even putting that vomiting stuff aside, this book is far more fun, fascinating and just plain interesting than other books I’ve seen in this kind of vein. Although publishers are supposed to rave about the book on its back cover, its description actually held true:

Vibrantly designed and illustrated, it’s crammed with activities that not only are fun and do-able, but get kids engaged in the wider world — and provides information to expand their worldviews, too, inspiring them to learn more. Right at the age when kids start to disappear into various screens, Unbored encourages them to use those tech skills in creative ways.  Activities parents will remember from their childhoods are presented alongside bold new possibilities: science experiments, crafts and upcycling, board game hacking, code-cracking, geocaching, skateboard repair, yarn bombing, stop-action moviemaking — plus tons of trivia, best-of lists, and forward-thinking ideas made accessible to kids.

Stella explained to me that one thing she particularly enjoyed about the book is how it talked about parents as needing to be “trained.” She thought that was quite chuckle-worthy. So, for example, instead of “How to teach your parents how to geocache,” it might be titled, “Train your parents to take you geocaching.”

My advanced copy is soft cover and in black and white print, but the published version coming out in October (you can pre-order on now at this link, which is not an affiliate link) will be hardcover, full-colour, and with a holographic foil on the cover. The pre-order price notes $16.70 … I have no idea how it’s being offered at such a reasonable price!

Stella has had her nose in and out of this book constantly since I brought it home last month and she’s been creating board games and a variety of enviro-friendly recycling/upcycling projects and activities. Some of it I’ve appreciated more than others I’d have to admit. For instance, when I went into her washroom tonight when she was brushing her teeth I was hit by a wall of stench — urine stench! She explained that she was trying to save water by following the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow,” motto. I explained to her that she’d have much better chance of saving our environment by clearing the nuclear waste dump that her room had become. We might not see eye to eye on a few things.

If you’d like to check out the detail of the pages and some sample entries, Bloomsbury Publishing has shared some here:


Parent rating: 5 / 5 stars

Tween rating: 5 / 5 stars



  1. I love these kinds of books. I am totally getting a copy for Emma and Sarah.

  2. I laughed out loud at her attempt to save the environment by following the “if it’s yellow let it mellow” rule! Too funny. Sounds like it’s a great book (and the NMX sounds absolutely awesome!). 

  3. i want to check out this book, there’s probably lots of cool stuff to do with my students!

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