Simon adds another to his mammoth body of swinging, smart science books for kids.
The author devotes four pages each to the most extreme environments and environmental events on Earth: coldest, hottest, driest, highest, deepest, biggest earthquake, largest volcano, most destructive tsunami and kindred greats. As always—and this is no mean feat—he manages to wow readers, while imparting the scientific circumstances that either create or allow for these phenomena. There is the sheer juicy stuff—temperatures ranging from minus 129 F to 160 F, 56 feet of annual snowfall—but he also adds the human factor (why do 300 people live on Tristan de Cunha, the world’s most remote place?) and introduces the rare flora and fauna. There is an artful blend of text and image, but so much happens in the mind’s eye—a wave traveling at 600 mph, holy cow—that Simon really gets readers thinking. Two grouses: There should have been a photo of Mount Thor on Baffin Island, the greatest pure vertical drop (4100 feet), rather than three waterfall shots; but most egregiously—no maps! Metric measurements are included parenthetically. These places are somewhere—perhaps near, so let’s go—and readers deserve a sense of their location.
A dozen earthly gems, buffed high by Simon. (index) (Nonfiction. 7-12)