A broad overview of the biosphere, with hundreds of stylish plant and animal portraits.
Kitted out with a foldout poster jacket, multiple ribbons, and a color-coded system of margin tabs, this oversized album collects 67 topical “charts” presenting, in no apparent order, surveys of world habitats and ocean zones; introductions to taxonomy and food webs; arrays of bird beaks, feet, eggs, nests, and feathers; group portraits of related organisms and closer looks at selected single ones. Animals are the main focus, though other kingdoms draw at least some notice. Davey’s digital illustrations look like cut-paper collages—flat of surface and perspective, composed of multiple elements of diverse hue and pattern. The figures are generally recognizable and capable of putting on a grand show, as with one display of birds of paradise and another of tropical reef denizens. The lighting, though, is murky throughout, sometimes to the extent that physical details are obscured. Similarly, captions and blocks of explanatory text, which are all in minuscule type, are hard to see against the darker backgrounds. More problematically, readers will be left in the dark by unamplified claims that inorganic things are “not made of cells but of tiny things called particles,” and “some fish are more closely related to other vertebrates than they are to other fish.”
Best for casual browsing; for systematic, reliable information, look elsewhere. (index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)