An eye-opening, and -widening, early introduction to our restless planet.

EARTH SHATTERING EVENTS

VOLCANOES, EARTHQUAKES, CYCLONES, TSUNAMIS AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS

A look at the causes and effects of nine types of natural disasters, from tsunamis to wildfires.

Now and then, Jacobs writes, “the planet reminds us who’s boss.” Loosely grouped as “Geological” and “Meteorological” disasters, the tally of reminders begins with an overview of plate tectonics, then goes on to explain in short segments of narrative, first, how earthquakes are caused (with a side note on the role of fracking) and measured, then what to do if caught in one, common effects, and finally a map with notes on five particularly destructive recent examples. Each succeeding entry is constructed along similar lines. The author asserts in a final chapter that climate change will spur larger and more widespread natural disasters—including even earthquakes and volcanoes—and that we are facing “the biggest environmental challenge we have ever seen.” Williams makes a brave effort to lighten the impact of this worrisome message with brightly colored cartoon views of stylized, impersonal eruptions or wreckage and by interspersing her simple cutaways and diagrams with mildly comical cartoon images of various relevant gods from many traditions or modern (almost all white-presenting) figures cast in the role of observers, commentators, or responders rather than victims. Young readers will nonetheless be left as concerned as they are informed by this catalog of catastrophes.

An eye-opening, and -widening, early introduction to our restless planet. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-908714-70-1

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Cicada Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t...

HURRICANE HARVEY

DISASTER IN TEXAS AND BEYOND

The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.

In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt. (Nonfiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2888-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

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A trendy instructional tool, applied with mixed success both here and in the co-published Planet Earth, which gives our...

THE NATURAL WORLD

THE WORLD IN INFOGRAPHICS

From the World in Infographics series

Kicking off a series, this spotty tour of the biosphere demonstrates both the possibilities and the pitfalls of infographics.

Made up of realistically shaped silhouettes in a range of dizzyingly intense colors, the pictorial graphs packed into each single-topic spread are intended to highlight sequential or comparative relationships. Thematic groupings include the development of life on Earth, types of cells, the range of animal sizes and population trends in selected endangered species. At their best, as in a historical chart of mass extinctions or a silhouette of a sequoia next to a stack of 29 elephants, the visuals are both vivid and revelatory. More often, though, the graphics are poorly scaled (are chicken and turtle eggs really the same size, and what kind of turtle are we talking about?) or are really just stylized illustrations—a strand of DNA, an isolated slice of bread, a diagram of cell division. The accompanying captions and comments aren’t always enlightening either: Ostrich eggs “weigh about 3.5 lb. (1.5 kg)—nearly two bags of sugar.”

A trendy instructional tool, applied with mixed success both here and in the co-published Planet Earth, which gives our geology and atmosphere the same quick once-over. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-926973-74-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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