A “whistle-stop” tour of natural, historical, and cultural marvels, from Denali to the Everglades, the Golden Gate Bridge to Mardi Gras.
The 14 entries—arranged in no particular order and never located on a map—are kitted out with a gimmick: alternating versos are solid black with white outlined figures, so that holding the colored illustrations on the rectos up to a light allows the figures to shine through and, ideally at least, complete a composition. This works nicely when, for instance, a view of the White House’s exterior on the colored side is matched to a (simplified) schematic of the rooms inside, but too often the additions are animals or groups of tourists in the foregrounds, offering neither insight nor much of a visual surprise. Also, whenever pages are held up, the simple descriptive commentary is hard to read as the text on the other side, nearly all of which is placed in the same general area, shows through in reverse. Both Johnson and, in the co-published Secrets of Our Earth, Wesley Robins vary the visible skin tones of their otherwise generic human figures.
Anemic selections of basic facts paired to a visual trick that is only fitfully exploited with imagination. (Informational novelty. 7-9)