A tour of urban structures and infrastructure, from top to bottom.
Chambers begins with glances at rooftop satellite dishes, recreational facilities, and, for newer skyscrapers, solar panels and wind turbines. Before closing with piles and other types of foundations, she descends past elevators and escalators, with pauses for office-floor design, lighting, the use of greenery for “living walls” and “grasscrete,” transportation at street level and below, sewers, and power lines. Though she zips through all of these large topics with the speed of an express elevator, her occasional examples reflect an international outlook—as do closing pages of selected facts and future developments. She takes a similar top-to-bottom approach in three companion volumes: Stickmen’s Guide to Earth’s Atmosphere in Layers, …Mountains and Valleys in Layers, and …Oceans in Layers. In each de Quay mixes appropriate cartoon images of skyscrapers or satellites, cutaway views of volcanoes, or schematic arrays of sea life with anthropomorphic, faceless stick figures either hard at work or, nearly as often, energetically cutting up.
As a gimmick the stickmen add a bit of comic side business but not enough to lift these largely superficial outings out of the general run of assignment fodder. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)