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The Encyclopedia of Immaturity is a mish mash of wisdom usually picked up on the playground. In short it is a book of how to behave like a child. It has a number of silly pranks, useless trivia, and step by step instructions for childish skills such as making farting sounds with your underarm, riding your bike on one wheel or throwing a frisbee. I normally love Klutz books, but I have mixed feelings on this one. It was very inexpensive - I believe I paid £2.81, including postage. Amazon still has used copies for the same price, but I would not consider this book at the full price of £8.24.
Why did I buy this book? Well let's face it - I may be growing old but I still have not grown up. I'm the poster child for middle aged immaturity. I really wanted to try the broom egg whap. If you do it right you knock a pie tin off a glass of water, dropping the carefully balanced into the water. If you do it wrong - splat! Too bad for us - I can't find the right kind of broom. Although I did really want to try this trick, I wouldn't have bought the book just for this reason. I also wanted the book as I like to keep a wide variety of reading material for my son. I never expected him to pick this book up and read it cover to cover. It just isn't that type of book. But he has had fun reading a few pages at a time. I do think books that encourage a child to read and attempt to follow directions are very educational, as well as the fact that any time a child is reading any thing at all they are developing reading skills.
My son did enjoy some of the silly trivia in this book. There is the silly question "Where is Uranus?" which each generation seems to think is new and hilarious. We were already familiar with the idea that the water we use for drinking has at some point in time been urine, including dinosaur wee, but it's still an amusing thought. We liked the page on that question which has always plagued mankind for eons - "Why do birds poo on your head".
Some parts of the book seemed a bit sad to me. Surely any child should know how to skim a stone, throw a Frisbee or pull a wheelie without a book. There are directions to make a paper airplane, and paper fortune teller and a cat's cradle. We did enjoy making the bridge of pennies, but I'm afraid my sons and I both sat about with our fingers in our mouths making pathetic "whhhhhhh" Whhhhhh" sounds attempting to follow the directions on how to whistle. We have not tried the trick which looks the best of all of them yet. This is really more of a costume than a trick, but involves making a false body so that it looks like you are carrying your head in your hands. The girls version, with a long skirt does look better, but I could certainly trying the boys version for an older boy with a fancy dress event to go to. I don't think the costume suits younger children as their real arms are covered up, and if a child were to trip and fall, they couldn't put a hand out to protect themselves. It would be better for a quick gag then to spend any time in the costume.
Some aspects of the book are pretty pointless though. I really couldn't see the point of pretending to smash your head on your desk in class to get out of class ( I can't see any teachers here letting you out of class on that one either). The Universal excuse note is equally pointless, and the section on changing F's on your report to A's only applies to American's.
Some of the pranks in this book, such as shaving creaming your parents may get children with stricter parents into trouble, and the bowl of water on a broomstick backfired and left me soaking wet - it was meant for my husband. The section on how to annoy your teacher may get children into mild trouble. My biggest complaint with the book though was the section on how to be a back seat nuisance. Most children are pretty good at this anyway, but I take any distractions while the car is moving very seriously. I don't drive, but I do not like my husband distracted while he is driving and we do have strict rules for car trips, in spite of the fact that I am normally a bit of a pushover. I did have a friend as a child who caused a near fatal accident being a back seat nuisance and I know this affected her mother for life - and of course the victims family was affected much more. I may be overly fussy because of this, but I am knocking 2 stars off the book for this single issue, and have of course discussed with my sons why this is such a bad idea.
Overall, I am still happy I bought the book. We've had a few laughs with it, found a few tricks to try, and it has given my son a bit of reading material. I am quite certain this could encourage many boys who don't view books as cool to read - and that gives this book some value on it's own. I honestly do not feel that it is worth the full purchase price. I would certainly choose a used edition. I would strongly recommend parents read this first and discuss what parts of the books are funny and might be worth trying and which tricks are totally off limits. I would put an ideal age range of 8 -14 on this, but there are some adults ( like myself) who may still find a few pranks funny, and younger children may enjoy some of the ideas as long as they are given plenty of help and supervision.