Arts and Entertainment

New book is a lot of fun, believe it or not

The Bookworm

“Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Seeing is Believing,” c. 2009, Ripley Publishing, $28.95, 265 pages.

So, let’s say somebody came up to you on the first day of school and started telling you about a guy with thousands of pins in his face and it didn’t kill him, and a ginormous snake that swallowed a wallaby (a kangaroo-like animal) whole! And then your friend went on to say that some woman made a bracelet that was long enough for your entire class to wear at the same time.

Pretty amazing, right? And you don’t believe a word of it, do you?

You should, because you’ll read about (and see) those things and more in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Seeing is Believing!”

Without a doubt, your great-grandparents probably remember reading “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” That’s because it started out as a newspaper column almost 100 years ago when Robert Ripley became fascinated with oddities and weird things. Everything in Ripley’s column was authentic and everything in this book is absolutely true, too.

There are plenty of challenges in this book. For instance, a boy in Florida made a huge ball of rubber bands – more than 700,000 in all – which weighs nearly 5 tons. Look around your house. Getting any ideas?

And then there’s the boy who may be the fastest texter ever – 160 characters in 45 seconds, blindfolded. You can do that!

You’ll find curious creatures in here, like the four-eared cat, the two-headed kitten and the two-faced calf. Then there’s the house hippo whose “parents” adopted her as an orphan. You’ll find a pink turtle with a Mohawk, dogs on wheels, and yes, plenty of gruesome snake stories.

Grab this book and read about the Canadian whose entire body is tattooed with bones and internal organs and the guy whose eyeball has a tattoo (eeeuwww). You’ll see some very old portraits of former circus attractions and modern pictures of human oddities like the magnetic man and the guy with a double arm transplant.

And if art is more your thing, check out the toilet-paper wedding dress, the lifesize dragon cake, the gumball wall, a dog made of crayons and – believe it or not – a portrait of Eminem made of M&Ms.

“Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Seeing is Believing” looks like a children’s book. It’s probably going to be found in the children’s section of your bookstore or library. The cover certainly will appeal to kids, but believe this: this book is way too good for adults to skip.

Page after page after page of this “Ripley’s” book is packed with bite-sized nuggets of goofy stories, horrid happenings, there’s-no-way themes, improbable (but real) pictures and tons of those silly-human stories you’d normally find in the smallest corner of your newspaper. The articles are family-friendly (like the Ripley’s column of old) and can be enjoyed by 7-year-olds to great-grandpa.

Be aware that reading “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Seeing is Believing” may result in gasps, I-can-do-thats, and time lost…but you won’t mind. This is a pretty cool book, and you can believe that.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her two dogs and 9,500 books.

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