Kirkus Reviews QR Code
DISASTERS BY THE NUMBERS by Steve Jenkins Kirkus Star


A Book of Infographics

From the By the Numbers series

by Steve Jenkins ; illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-328-56948-6
Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Jenkins surveys over 20 rare and commonplace calamities that befall the planet, placing them into categories: earth, weather, life, and space.

He quickly establishes that some disasters are related to human action and that many have ripple effects lasting minutes, months, or years. Most entries claim a double-page spread with a clear introduction and an array of explicating infographics. “Earthquake” gets a pithy explanation of the role of tectonic plates. Thumbnail spots illustrate quakes’ relative damage, corresponding to numbers on the Richter scale, and a timeline ranks seven historical earthquakes’ destructiveness by human fatalities. Throughout, data include rankings, from established rubrics (such as hurricane categories, the volcanic explosivity index, and the Enhanced Fujita scale for tornadoes) to quirkier measures, like the relative visibility of a conifer in a blizzard. Jenkins highlights the destabilizing effects of events like drought, establishing its connection to famine, war, and even cultural collapse. The characteristics of a locust plague and potential impacts by near-Earth objects should fascinate kids. “Pandemic” covers the historical majors and includes AIDS. Covid-19 gets a corner spot here: Masking (with no mention of vaccination) is called out as “one of the best ways to protect” against the virus. Appropriately, climate change garners its own four-page concluding section. Small but distinct maps, cogent graphs, crisp collaged illustrations, unambiguous language, and exquisite attention to relative size characterize this keenly executed series entry. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Another excellent project from the multiply intelligent maestro of infographics.

(glossary, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 6-10)