On oversized pages, top-to-bottom journeys through first our planet and then its oceans.
As itineraries go, neither outing is particularly well-organized. The land portion begins with clusters of nematodes and suchlike small subsurface dwellers—all accompanied by labels and, often, a descriptive comment—and goes on to teeming galleries of other diggers, including row after row of root vegetables. A series of human-built works in cross section follows, and then the book digs past plate tectonics to plunge into the mantle and so down to the planet’s core. In a switch that makes more poetic than physical sense, the orientation then reverses, so that turning the page begins a journey from the bottom of the Marianas Trench on up. That progress isn’t any steadier, as artificially dense crowds of exotic deep-sea fish give way to oil rigs and undersea vessels of diverse design, then finally select reef and freshwater-lake denizens. The unwieldy volume comes with two title pages (and covers), so voyagers can start from either end. Either way, though, the going takes on a monotonous quality, as the hundreds of creatures and structures are drawn in the same flat, cartoon style (rarely to scale) and so shoveled-in among balloons of commentary that many spreads look overstuffed. The skin tones of human figures vary from white to light brown.
A geo-hodgepodge, wearisome despite its planetary scope and a resolutely international outlook. (Informational picture book. 9-12)