This sturdy informational book for middle graders examines 10 areas of the natural and human worlds: ocean, homes, earth and space, landmarks, nature, everyday objects, buildings, fruits and vegetables, animals, and transportation.
Exterior views of a dozen or so objects in each category are illustrated on double-page spreads, and a gatefold on each page reveals the corresponding interior view of the objects. Brief captions offer tantalizing facts, but further research will be needed to fill out the picture. Some of the descriptions are too technical for the space available, and some of the information is inaccurate or insufficiently explained—the organ is the “king of instruments,” for instance, not the piano. The descriptions of the internal combustion engine and hovercraft fail to convey how these devices actually work. There is no mention of hybrid or electric vehicles and no comment on saving energy, surprising omissions. Humans are routinely referred to as “man.” These factors contribute to a generally dry, dated appearance, in contrast to other books that do not attempt to be so comprehensive but show dramatic cutaways of vehicles and processes, David Macaulay's work being the gold standard in this area. Each topic is illustrated by a different artist, with credit given in context.
A too-large scope and dull treatment scuttle this effort. (Nonfiction. 8-12)