The Earth Book: A World of Exploration and Wonder by Jonathan Litton and Thomas Hegbrook
|The Earth Book: A World of Exploration and Wonder by Jonathan Litton and Thomas Hegbrook|
|Category: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A wonderful primer of all the earth sciences – with a little bit of biology included too.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 64||Date: April 2017|
|Publisher: 360 Degrees|
The Earth. I kind of quite like it, you know – it seems to serve my purpose. I don't think I've taken too much out of it, all told, and if it's divided up into 200 countries I'm getting close to having visited a quarter of them. But way back when I just didn't get on with studying it. I didn't like geography – what with having to draw maps, oxbow lakes and whatnot I think it was one of those subjects I was put off through the pictorial element – and dropped it as soon as I could. But then, I didn't have the likes of this book to inspire me…
This large-format hardback comes in four suitable chunks. The first drags us screaming from life outside in the universe to close in on our planet and see how it was formed, and what it's formed of. We see cross-sections of volcanoes, and have a double-page spread devoted to the water cycle. Part two is the biology – the tree of life, some superlative species of different ilk, and the prehistoric record. The third section is biology and geography combined, in a way that few books about the earth sciences bother with, so we see the different ecosystems of island life, the polar regions, the oceans, and so on; before we close with a look at the Anthropocene, and the human world, with city life, the spread of homo sapiens from southern and eastern Africa out, and so on. We close, as is only right, with two questions – are we alone in having a world with life on, and are we not just going to mess it all up?
This strikes me as not so much welcome in a school library, but a must-have. The spread of subjects makes perfect sense, but is also a melange of geography, geology and biology, and never worries about the distinction. Everything is concisely delivered on either one or two pages, and the visual side of those double-page spreads is ever dynamic. You have a lot of information packed in here as well, with a sensible spread of captions and long paragraphs – nowhere here is the modern trend of having copious headings, sentences in some higgledy-piggledy order you can never discern, and a great dearth of knowledge to be conveyed. Sometimes the lead paragraph on each spread is in an unusual place, but that's about it, as generally the layout is most thoughtful.
In actual fact, the depth of the information here is quite wonderful – there is stuff here for the secondary school library. Yes, some of it – especially when looking at superlative animals or locations – can be very trivial (pineapple fruits can take three years to mature, etc) but there is definitely stuff I didn't expect to find. The last I heard of the moho (look it up) it was the subject of a University Challenge question – in the 2017 final. I would have loved to see the artist's face when asked to illustrate a pingo. (That said, his J K Rowling when we see noted humans en masse is nothing like, so I can only hope it's a proper, perky pingo.) The script, which only repeats itself once what's more, seems to be perfectly pitched for a lot of learning, and as I did that myself here, I have to recommend this book. The palette the artist uses, of quite muted colours, might not cause many uses of the book from off a home shelf, but in so many other ways this really ticks the boxes.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
For an unusual look at what's below our feet, there's nothing quite like The Street Beneath My Feet by Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer – and for the world on the surface you cannot go much wrong with What's Where on Earth? Atlas: The World as You've Never Seen It Before by DK.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Earth Book: A World of Exploration and Wonder by Jonathan Litton and Thomas Hegbrook at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Earth Book: A World of Exploration and Wonder by Jonathan Litton and Thomas Hegbrook at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.