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Father Knows Less or: ''Can I Cook My Sister?'': One Dad's Quest to Answer His Son's Most Baffling Questions

3.45  ·  Rating Details  ·  213 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews

A New York Times editor sets out to answer the peculiarly marvelous questions of his precocious young son. Blending a charming father-son journey with the surprising, sometimes hilarious questions and answers it spawned, Father Knows Less offers a heartwarming exploration of that childlike curiosity that lives within us all.

MP3 Book, 0 pages
Published August 19th 2008 by Tantor Media, Inc. (first published September 6th 2007)
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May 12, 2011 ibnumaroghi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: milik, nonfiksi
Inti ceritanya adalah tentang pertanyaan-pertanyaan aneh di dalam dunia anak yang dijawab secara langsung oleh ahlinya. Agak rumit penjelasannya, tetapi pertanyaan-pertanyaan aneh itulah sebenarnya yang menarik dari buku ini [bukannya malah jawaban dari ahlinya atas pertanyaan itu].

Buku ini adalah semacam 'panduan' bagi pasangan muda untuk mendidik anaknya dalam meniti kehidupannya. Entah atas dasar apa saya bisa sampai membelinya, samapi sekarang buku ini masih menjadi kitab acuan saya untuk m
Rob Kirbach
Jan 24, 2014 Rob Kirbach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 21, 2009 Kirsten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We all know that kids ask a ton of questions and, often, ones we don’t really know the answers to. Sure, we might fake a response, make a joke out of the question or simply say, I don’t know. Author and New York Times editor Wendell Jamieson ups the ante for all adults.

Jamieson’s first book, Father Knows Less, takes questions from his son Dean (and many other curious kids) seriously by providing real answers from notable experts to kids’ craziest questions. The results are interesting, often fun
Jul 20, 2012 AJ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this because it contained tons of random knowledge - which I love. The whole premise is that the author has a very inquisitive son and he is unable to answer many, or most, of the questions he asks. So, he decides to go to the "experts" to answer all of his sons questions. He even goes another step and had readers send in questions to his website which he then got answers to from experts.

It was interesting, and I especially liked the stories he told about his family. His father and mot
Feb 19, 2008 Becky is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition

Jamieson, city editor for the New York Times, whose seven-year-old son, Dean, has been in full-bore question mode for the past few years, decided that the best strategy for giving Dean the answers was also to give himself a challenge. He would get each answer from a real person who knows it by heart, whose very livelihood depends on the knowledge that Jamieson would present without sugarcoating or simplification. The result is a compendium of hilariously insightful questions from kids (age seven
Oct 19, 2007 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Why is the sky blue?" "Were Tyrannasaurus Rexes mean?" Kids ask a lot of questions. This book sets out to answer them. Divided into chapters by roughly by subject matter, this book covers questions about linguistics, sex, biology, physics, and more. While most questions are drawn from the author's own children and friends' children, some are posed by children whose parents found their way to his website.

A book like this runs the risk of preciousness (awwww, look at those cute things kids ask)
Dec 19, 2008 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliant book. Jamieson's book is a memoir and a wry look at fatherhood. The heart of the book contains the questions of young children with answers from experts. In behalf of the kids asking the questions, Jamieson sought answers from experts who could talk to children rather than down to them. Read these pages and find out why a whip makes a whooshing sound when you crack it. Find out why some people are ticklish and some are not. Find out why you can't cook your baby sister. This Q ...more
Jun 08, 2008 Topher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Kids ask some really good questions. Some of them are things that, as an adult, seem totally obvious until you begin to think about it - "why do we have wars?". Others are questions with obvious answers that parents may not want to fully discuss with kids - "where do babies come from?". But others....are just, wow.

Why is it loud when you drive along a highway?

Why don't people make mummies anymore?

Why is Sue (the T-Rex @ The Field Museum) called Sue?


The author kept track of all the good que
May 19, 2008 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this book is simple: a father, inspired by his young son’s endless questions, decides to consult experts to learn the real answers to those, plus others submitted by other kids (or really, their parents). The fact that the father is a journalist at the New York Times certainly helped his search for sources, which range from big-name scientists to various engineers and specialists in a number of fields, including a dominatrix. Interspersed are vignettes from his own childhood and a ...more
James Swenson
Sep 26, 2015 James Swenson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting collection of kids' genuine, imponderable questions, answered by some of the world's leading authorities. I suppose it helps that the author is an editor at the New York Times, but I was increasingly inspired by the willingness of genuinely impressive experts like Dick Clark to answer questions like "What's a record?"
Basically the author finds experts to answer the questions kids ask like "Where do babies come from?" and "Why is the sky blue?" The questions come from his own childhood, his son, friends kids, and questions contributed by his readers (he writes from the NY Times). He also prefaces each chapter and then certain questions with stories from his life. In a way it reminded me of The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs, in which he details his reading of the Encyclopedia Britannica in one year. In that book ...more
Wendell Jamieson, an editor at the NY Times, decided that he would go on a quest to answer his son's and other kids' most baffling questions. But rather than look up the questions on the internet, he decided to talk to experts in the fields in which the questions fell. For instance, one kid asked why does a whip make that cracking sound? Wendell talked to a dominatrix.

The book was absolutely fascinating, and I learned so much from reading it. There were things I thought I knew, and my answers w
I have to come to the conclusion that I am never going to finish this book. I basically read all the answers to the kid's questions and a little of the surrounding information about the author and his son, but lost all interest soon after. It is a great book in theory and a wonderful read for any new parent who is wondering just how to answer their son or daughters odd questions (well, not really odd, but things we never really think of, because we just take knowing the answers for granted, when ...more
Sep 26, 2013 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
–It’s amusing for the most part. The questions are some that my kids have asked me (why is the sky blue, etc), but I don’t think some of the explanations/experts are appropriate for the age group of the child asking the questions for example; having a dominatrix answer the question of “If you don’t hit anything with it, how does a whip make that noise?”. I don’t know about you, but in my house, that would just beget more questions about what a dominatrix is, why someone would want one, so on and ...more
Sep 08, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know all those questions that seem ridiculous, but you really wasn't to know the answer anyway? That's what this book is full of and it's wonderful. It's fantastic to see a journalist take his son serious enough to answer all if his questions - and what a heart felt legacy to give to your child that is! I loved this book; Part memoir, part trivial reference material, this novel captures the attention and brings the realization that we're never too old to ask questions, to wonder, and to lear ...more
Aug 10, 2009 Benjamin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
One dad tries to find the answers to all the random questions asked by his five-year-old son (and other children). Instead of looking up the info himself, he goes to the expert in the field. (i.e. asking Astronomers about black holes, a Dominatrix about how whips make sound, Yoko Ono for a question "Why did the Beatles break up?")

In gets a little flat at the end, and the author does tend to obsess about 9/11 (admittedly, he and his son watched it happen outside their window), but you can skim t
Jan 30, 2008 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents
So this book was not what I expected. It is really more of a memoir about being a father and reminiscing about once being a son. Questions are included from both of them as well as other children, but the majority of the book is about why children ask the questions they do and the circumstances surrounding the specific questions of the two. Because of this there are some real insights into parenting that would not be if the book was a simple encyclopedia of children's questions.
Tony Petrosino
Apr 06, 2008 Tony Petrosino rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book about the relationship between my godson and his father. Aside from how much this book resonates with me personally, it is an informative, funny, heart-warming and wonderfully written account of what happens when you begin to take very seriously the questions that young children ask. Wendell Jamieson takes these questions and then asks for some of the leading experts in the world. This is a must read.
Quite an informative 'listen' actually! It offers the answers to a bunch of questions kids might ask, & it's pretty interesting really. Adults would find the questions/answers worth listening to also!
Fun, entertaining, and informative book. I listened to the audio version. It would have been a perfect one to listen to with my children, but I wasn't able to because it had occasional mild profanity from time to time. If it hadn't been for that, I would have given it 4 stars.
Jan 01, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
What I learned from this book: Dads are crazy. Actually, I learned quite a few things from reading the answers Mr. Jamieson found. A few questions were not answered to my satisfaction, like why soap stings your eyes. What is it about the pH balance that makes it sting?
I liked his writing style immensely, and enjoyed the blurbs between answers.
May 21, 2013 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2* This book was pretty interesting. There were of course some things that I don't care that much about, like how rockets fly, but all in all, Wendell Jamieson covered a lot of ground.

I enjoyed his serious approach to answering children's questions and the fact that he really did find out why it's not cool to cook one's sister.
Interesting book about the questions kids ask and the author of the book went hunting for the answers with the actual people in the profession and not online.At least we now know why police eat donuts and also why we are not allowed to cook and eat your sister just because she might be tasty.
Fun book. The author finds answers to his son's questions by asking an actual authority on the subject. The questions are brought forth in a funny or entertaining way and the answers are very informative- often scientific or secular. I would only recommend this book to other adults/parents.
Jan 02, 2008 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
It is interesting the way dad goes about looking for answers to his son's (typical 3 and 4 year old) questions. The answers he got were in the most part satisfying. I sort of liked the author's father's made-up answers to questions better, though. A pleasant read for a snowy, cold morning.
I loved the idea of this book, but found that the book itself lost my interest in places - especially during the author's exposition. But the questions and answers were fascinating, and I really thought the idea of finding expert answers to childrens' questions was brilliant.
Eva Leger
Jul 19, 2008 Eva Leger rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one I know
Recommended to Eva by: magazine review
I have to admit kind of skipping through some pages on thsi one which is something I normally don't allow myself to do. It's a decent book I suppose but unless you're wondering the answers to the all the questions in the book it gets boring....FAST.
May 12, 2011 R.E. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to R.E. by: NPR
Shelves: science
The questions and answers are more interesting than Jamieson's anecdotes about his family life, but it's still informative. You'll almost certainly learn three things you wanted to know and one thing that you could have lived without.
Cindy Minnich
Oct 18, 2009 Cindy Minnich marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
I really need to find a copy of this book. It looks amazing. I read the first few pages on, was ecstatic to see that the library had it, but then disappointed to find out it's in storage and can't be checked out.
Christine Bowles
Entertaining and informative, this book tackles the questions of children and gives them answers by experts who know. Very funny and enlightening!
For a longer review check out my blog at
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“When you’re the father of a little boy, which involves many joys, you do have one rationalization in your back pocket that is ready to be used roughly half of the time – that your little boy has the disadvantage of not being a girl. Girls just seem to be ahead of the game in so many ways when they are little; they are not as apt to tumble spontaneously off stools as boys are. We saw this clearly illustrated the first day we took Dean to nursery school: the little girls took off their coats and hung them up, neatly, and then went to help all the little boys, whose coats were half off, or still zippered and hopelessly tangled around their midsections, or attached to one hand and dragging along the floor.” 1 likes
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