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Posted By Peter Bentley
It's been a busy month for foreign editions of my books. Today I received the Dutch translation of The Book of Numbers (De Wereld Van Het Getal) published by Fontaine Uitgevers. It looks very nice, although I can't read (or pronounce) any of it. I've also recently received the US version of the audiobook, available from Brilliance Audio as conventional CDs and MP3 CDs. It's read by actor Phil Gigant very nicely. Always a little strange to hear your words read by someone with an unfamiliar voice and accent! Also this month I received the French version of The Undercover Scientist (La journée désastreuse de M. Murphy) published by Dunod, which is illustrated throughout with funny cartoons.

Posted By Peter Bentley
Today I received a new request. It turns out that content from the UK version of my book The Undercover Scientist has been (and is still being) used as part of an official Japanese University Entrance Exam. The passage is presented to the students, with some questions that test the ability of the students to understand the meaning of the text, and also their ability to understand which words should be used in which context.

The request is from the publisher (Obunsha) of a test preparation workbook for students. I've granted them permission to use a specific passage from my book with certain questions. I won't say which passage, in case any Japanese readers find this entry! The book will be called Daigaku Nyushi Mondai Seikai available in June 2010.

Anyway, it's a pleasure to find that my books are being used for such diverse applications, and I'm honoured to be able to help the new generations of Japanese university applicants in this way.

Posted By Peter Bentley
A new message from one of my readers today. It's always a pleasure to hear from them, especially when they say things like this:

I bought your book "Why Shit Happens" as I killed some time in Portland's lovely airport (if the very concept of a "lovely airport" isn't an oxymoron) last year, waiting for a flight back to sunny Scotland. I only just got round to reading it this past week or so and I found it highly enjoyable and amusing but more than that, very informative.

I must admit to being really rather ignorant about the world around me. I got through school with an understanding of trigonometry, a bunch of "important dates" from History lodged in my brain and the ability to order fresh bread in German, yet I couldn't have told you what a pulled muscle actually was, or how batteries work or the wonders of day's old milk.

Having become a first time father only last year there been a cold, quiet dread creeping up on me as times goes on and that fear is the word "why". I know it's coming. As soon as the boy starts talking the dreaded word won't be far behind, and as the font of all knowledge to my child I'll be expected to answer all the "why" questions with the requisite authority. Armed with the knowledge from your book, and the fine basic introduction it's given me to many varied aspects of nature and science, I now feel like I've at least got a fighting chance of giving the right answer and avoiding my back up answer of, "Umm, it's all magic."

Looking forward to any future work,

[name removed] (slightly less worried father)

Posted By Peter Bentley
It's been a busy week as Neon magazine in Germany have decided to write a feature on my book Why Sh*t Happens (or The Undercover Scientist in the UK). So I spent Monday afternoon dressed up in a suit having my photo taken while crouching over a pile of broken pottery, finger dripping with fake blood, making horrified expressions. I wonder what this article is going to look like... I'll post a copy when I get it.

I also noticed that my book makes Mike Silverman's list of top ten books last year. In his words:

Why Shit Happens by Peter Bentley

You wake up in the morning late because your alarm doesn't go off. Your toast falls on the floor, a bird craps on you as you walk outside, your car breaks down on the way to work, and your pen explodes in your packet. And this is all before 9 AM. Using as his hook a litany of minor disasters that we have all dealt with at one time or another, Bentley explores the science and technology of our daily lives, and how it affects us in ways both bug and small. This is a delightful little book.

Posted By Peter Bentley
Some nice news from USA. Apparently my book Why Sh*t Happens (which is known as The Undercover Scientist in most other countries) is a finalist in the 2010 SB&F Prize Young Adult Science Book category from AAAS. SB&F is the Science Books & Films review journal designed for educators and libraries in USA, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

I'm not sure what the other finalists are so I'm not holding my breath. There's also some time to wait - according to their website, winners will be announced January 2010. "Winning authors and illustrators will be honored at the AAAS Annual Meeting on February 19 and 20, 2010 in San Diego, CA."