Comprehensively mistitled but worth considering for its unusual angles, or at least as a replacement for the previous...




A view of human history from the Big Bang to experimental lab-grown meat.

With this volume, Lloyd seemingly revises and updates What on Earth Happened? Brief (2009) into a rushed survey vaguely positioned as “a gateway to all the knowledge in the world.” It’s a narrow gateway, for all its substantial heft. The author is more or less through with the cosmos, geology, and biology by Page 75 and on to modern humans—beginning with the invention of cooking, a “gigantic breakthrough” in human development. He goes on to a tally of civilizations that’s less Eurocentric than many, although he pays at best scant attention to the Indian subcontinent or to Indigenous North America, not to mention anyone’s art, music, or literature. Moreover, his narrative is so telescoped that World War I is finished off in three paragraphs, and he gets from the space race to SpaceX in two. Still, he does carry his story up to Black Lives Matter, concludes by pointing to absolutism and income inequality as issues to watch, and finishes with an optimistic note that we humans are “superadapters” in a world whose true paradigm is adaptation to change. Reinforcing the panoramic feel, many of the colorful photos, images, and, from Forshaw, diversely hued and clad figures from various eras that brighten nearly every page seem to be marching into or out of view along the edges.

Comprehensively mistitled but worth considering for its unusual angles, or at least as a replacement for the previous edition. (glossary and index not seen) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-999-8028-3-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Far from comprehensive but visually arresting and, at times, provocative.


From the Information Graphics series

Stylized graphics rendered in saturated hues set this quick overview of body systems apart from the general run.

Arranged in tabbed and color-coded sections, the tour covers familiar ground but often from an unusual angle. The tally of human senses at the beginning, for instance, includes “proprioception” (physical multitasking), and ensuing chapters on the skeletal, circulatory and other systems are capped with a miscellany of body contents and products—from selected parasites and chemicals to farts and sweat. Likewise, descriptions of a dozen physical components of the “Brain Box” are followed by notes on more slippery mental functions like “Consciousness” and “Imagination.” The facts and observations gathered by Rogers are presented as labels or captions. They are interspersed on each spread with flat, eye-dazzling images designed by Grundy not with anatomical correctness in mind but to show processes or relationships at a glance. Thus, to show body parts most sensitive to touch, a silhouette figure sports an oversized hand and foot, plus Homer Simpson lips (though genitals are absent, which seems overcautious as an explicit section on reproduction follows a few pages later), and a stack of bathtubs illustrates the quantity of urine the average adult produces in an average lifetime (385 bathtubs’ worth). There is no backmatter.

Far from comprehensive but visually arresting and, at times, provocative. (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7123-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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This glossy, colorful title in the “I Want To Be” series has visual appeal but poor organization and a fuzzy focus, which limits its usefulness. Each double-paged layout introduces a new topic with six to eight full-color photographs and a single column of text. Topics include types of environmentalists, eco-issues, waste renewal, education, High School of Environmental Studies, environmental vocabulary, history of environmentalism, famous environmentalists, and the return of the eagle. Often the photographs have little to do with the text or are marginal to the topic. For example, a typical layout called “Some Alternative Solutions” has five snapshots superimposed on a double-page photograph of a California wind farm. The text discusses ways to develop alternative forms of energy and “encourage environmentally friendly lifestyles.” Photos include “a healer who treats a patient with alternative therapy using sound and massage,” and “the Castle,” a house built of “used tires and aluminum cans.” Elsewhere, “Did You Know . . . ” shows a dramatic photo of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, but the text provides odd facts such as “ . . . that in Saudi Arabia there are solar-powered pay phones in the desert?” Some sections seem stuck in, a two-page piece on the effects of “El Niño” or 50 postage-stamp–sized photos of endangered species. The author concludes with places to write for more information and a list of photo credits. Pretty, but little here to warrant purchase. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-201862-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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