Manmade: The Human World by Jon Richards
Lots of books teach kids about the natural world, the land, the oceans and rivers, the air, and living creatures who make it their home.
But what about the human world, what humans have built and what they do on the surface of the earth, below the surface, and even in the space above the earth? That overlay (and underlay) is the subject of Jon Richards' just-published The Human World (The World in Infographics) (OwlKids Books, 2013), a book in the publishers Infographics series which seeks to portray the facts and figures of human activity in a variety of icons, pictograms. and colorful graphics.
Using bright backgrounds and a rainbow of colorful symbols, author Richards and artist/designer Ed Simkins set out to show middle readers some of the fascinating facts about human makers and shakers on the earth.
For example, a pictogram shows the silhouette of one car with the icons of eleven humans to show how many cars there are in relation to people on the earth. On another page a line graph shows earth's population at 791 million in 1750, rising slowly until 1900, to 1.6 billion, and then rising like a rocket to a predicted 9 billion by 2050. A companion infographic shows a human icon standing on his share of earth's surface, 0.03 square mile, in 1900, and the human individual standing on his 2050 share of land, 0.006 square mile. A color co-ordinated world map shows where those people live--5.09% in North America, 10.61% in Europe, and 60.31% in Asia, with the populations shown by colored circles of related size.
And a lot of these people get around in cars. An array of car icons show the relative size of car production, with China, at the top with 13,897,083 cars produced in 2010, and the U.S. at the bottom of major producers with 2,731,105. A similar graphic shows that all of these automobiles produce 15.9% of earth's carbon dioxide emissions, while electricity generation produces 43.9%. A series of different-sized air control towers shows that Atlanta in the U.S. has the heaviest annual air passenger count, followed by Heathrow, U.K., Beijing, China, Chicago, U.S., and Tokyo, Japan.
Richards provides many more facts in show-not-tell infographics format--annual vacation lengths represented by different-sized beach chairs, relative work weeks shown by decreasing-sized workers at their laptops, and even the six most-popular tourist destinations, led, surprisingly, by France. Final sections deal with communications and the digital world, including the amazing fact that there were 5.3 billion cell phones (in 2010), with one and a half billion of those in China and India.
Richards and Simkins provide an eye-catching glossary, with white text and bright icons set off against a black background, and an brief but useful index. There's a (human) world of information to tempt students to find further facts in other sources. Other books in The World in Infographics series include The Human Body (The World in Infographics), The Natural World (The World in Infographics), and Planet Earth (The World in Infographics) (see reviews here).