What's the Difference?: 40+ Pairs of the Seemingly Similar

Image of What's the Difference?: 40+ Pairs of the Seemingly Similar
Release Date: 
July 9, 2018
Chronicle Books
Reviewed by: 

This gorgeous book has two owls on the cover and six sections in the table of contents. The book is made up of pairs that are similar but not the same. The sections include animals, food and drink, geography, fashion, the human body, and city.

The first pair of animals is a viper vs. a garter snake. It goes on comparing a rabbit to a hare, etc.  Each animal gets its own page with fact bubbles at the bottom of the page. The upper right-hand corner of the rabbit/hare double page spread has the official scientific classification of the two animals, including diet, size, distinguishing features, color, state, and lifespan.

The animal section continues by comparing a camel to a dromedary, a deer to a reindeer, etc. It is the most kid-friendly section of the book.

The food and drink section compares green to black olives, sorbet to ice cream, white chocolate to dark chocolate, clementine to mandarin, peach to nectarine, and noodles to pasta. Now it feels less like a book for children and more a book for a foodie.

The third section gets back to being kid friendly. It compares stalagmites to stalactites, seas to oceans, and lightning to thunder. It also covers tornados and hurricanes, and stars and planets, things a kid would want to know about.

The fashion section feels the most out of place of all the sections. Does a child really wonder about the difference between shorts and Bermuda shorts? Tights and stockings? Jeans and denim? The most unneeded comparison is between a knit cap and a balaclava, with Stetson and Borsalino running a close second for who really cares? Especially a child?

The human body section may find some pro lifers disagreeing with the distinction between an embryo and a fetus. The scientific definition of an embryo is up to seven weeks, according to this book, and a fetus in the eighth week of human development. This is a hot topic to include.

Iris and pupil make a good comparison regarding eyes. Farsightedness pairs with nearsightedness, right? Not in this book. It’s Presbyopia instead. Tibia and fibula make a good pair as do vein and artery and bacteria and virus.

The city section compares a city bus to a chartered coach, a magazine to a newspaper, and a basilica to a cathedral. After that, this reviewer is once again wondering why a child would care about the difference between a closet and an armoire.

The book is beautifully designed, is colorful and delightful for children some of the time and random at other times., The natural sections feel the best in this book. The human constructs of city and fashion, less so. Even food and drink beats out those sections for child appeal.

If the point was to make a thick book of 40 pairs, that was accomplished. A slimmer book of natural pairs would have been my preference for a child.

All in all, What’s the Difference?: 40+ Pairs of the Seemingly Similar is still a worthwhile addition to library shelves. And parents might learn a thing or two.