French illustrator Grée’s colorful and iconic images are put front and center alongside facts on nature, animals, transportation, and space in this encyclopedia for young readers.
This book walks through a young child’s world from the basics of plants, foods, and animals to human-made homes and modes of transportation. The illustrations are the focus, with bold, themed double-page spreads and colorful, lifelike images. Some pages are so picture-focused that they include next to no text, while others—such as the two pages on animal skills and survival—strike a nice balance of image and description. There are some useful diagrams, e.g., those that outline the life cycle of a butterfly and where gasoline comes from. By contrast, there are some that confuse, such as a cross section of a house that has a detailed bathroom with no toilet and is missing the accouterments of a 21st-century home (it’s got a TV antenna!). While for the most part people are inclusively illustrated, one spread of watercraft draws heavily and cringeworthily on stereotype in its depictions of Indigenous people paddling, respectively, a canoe, a kayak, and a raft. While this is a nice book of labeled pictures, an “encyclopedia” it is not, often raising more questions than it answers: What’s a queen ant or a hydroelectric power station? The index cross-references some items but not all.
While the illustrations are often flawed and feel outdated, their overall boldness and simplicity make for a nice book of pictures—but not a meaningful or useful encyclopedia. (Nonfiction. 6-8)