Sunday, April 21, 2013

Picture Earth! Planet Earth by Jon Richards


As the tectonic plates move about
they carry pieces of land with them.
Over millions of years, this has
changed the shape of our land from
a single mass to the continents
we know today.

Earth (and we earthlings with it) is always on the move, with tectonic plates always shifting, imperceptibly but surely, as author Jon Richards makes sure we understand in the second book in the publisher's new series, Planet Earth (The World in Infographics) (Owlkids Books, 2013).

Making certain we get it that our seemingly stable and solid earth is a dynamic force, Richards begins his latest with Inside the Earth, with a cross section of the showing its molten, hot-as-the-sun core upon which the mantle and the crust (to which we cling hopefully) is free to float. Richards introduces the concept of the proto-continents coming apart--from Pangaea to Laurasia and Gondawanaland millions of years ago right down to our current (but temporary) arrangement of lands. following with two-page spreads covering Restless Earth (earthquakes), The Rock Cycle, and Violent Volcanoes.

Richards then moves on to earth's prominent landforms--Towering Peaks, Habitats, The Oceans, and Raging Rivers, as well as those welcome features that keep us alive--The Air We Breathe, The Water Cycle, and Water World, and concluding not far from where he started, with Changing Earth (climate).

This second book in the The World in Infographics series makes use of its unique icons, pictograms, and occasional fact boxes to convey information difficult to organize in a readable narrative: the world's highest mountains are shown scaled to size as peaks in one distant mountain range, from Everest (at 29,029 feet) down to the Vinson Massif (16,066 feet) and the under-ocean Carstensz Pyramid in the Pacific. Likewise, the double-page chapter on Habitats offers a pyramid which combines climate and the relative extent of habitats from polar to tropical regions, and the spread on Raging Rivers boasts a very clever pictogram which offers a listing of earth's major rivers, largest to smallest, their source, destination, countries crossed, and length in miles and kilometers, all in one easy-to-understand graphic image.

Great for inquisitive kids who like to browse through its eye-catching page design and clever graphics, courtesy of illustrator Ed Simkins, Planet Earth (The World in Infographics) offers both dedicated autodidacts and casual readers concepts and some memorable facts to take away with them.

An appended glossary does double duty, serving also as a review of science vocabulary introduced in the text.

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