The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Front Page -

ummy, why is the sky all pink and orange? It’s meant to be blue!”

My son and I were driv­ing back from his grand­mother’s house and the sky above Stonehenge was a glo­ri­ous flamingo colour. He was gap­ing at the sight, mys­ti­fied.

“But Mummy, why isn’t it blu­u­uue?”

“The sky isn’t al­ways blue,” I said. We left it there be­cause Seth, three, had spot­ted a cloud shaped like a mon­key. We moved on to a game of “find the funny cloud” but I couldn’t help feel­ing a ris­ing sense of smug­ness, be­cause I could have an­swered his ques­tion. I know (I ac­tu­ally know!) why the sky changes colour as the sun sets. Yes, Mr Ren­dell, the girl who dossed her way through your sci­ence class gos­sip­ing on the back bench can truth­fully say she knows the an­swer.

I also know why the Mona Lisa doesn’t have eye­brows, how “the lady in the sat nav” knows where to go, and why the evo­lu­tion of ze­bra stripes may have more to do with mos­qui­toes than cam­ou­flage. Th­ese days my head is full of cu­ri­ous in­for­ma­tion. There I was, ex­pect­ing to be the par­ent with the joke an­swers or the one march­ing the kids off to Wikipedia for help with school as­sign­ments (“Don’t worry, let’s crowd-source your home­work”). But in­stead, when my chil­dren’s ques­tions get com­pli­cated, I’m go­ing to be an in­suf­fer­able know-it-all. Why? Be­cause I spent the past few years col­lect­ing thou­sands of ques­tions from pri­mary school chil­dren all over the UK, and get­ting them an­swered by world ex­perts.

The idea for a book popped into my head while on ma­ter­nity leave af­ter hear­ing my niece ask two im­pos­si­ble ques­tions: “Why are ki­wis hairy?” and “What is a wish?” The con­cept was so ob­vi­ous – a sort of QI for kids – that I couldn’t be­lieve it hadn’t been done be­fore.

I re­alised the book needed to sup­port a chil­dren’s char­ity, and by the time the NSPCC and a publisher were on board, the project had de­vel­oped a life of its own. In the end a long list of sci­en­tists,

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