Full of Life: Exploring Earth’s Biodiversity

Phaidon. Oct. 2022. 224p. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781838665364.
Gr 4 Up–A gorgeous addition to life science collections. The illustrations are the triumph of this book, with bold colors and simple yet vibrant images. The reading level and amount of text in this illustration-heavy work make it more appropriate for middle schoolers. This work reads like a reference book about Earth’s complex and beautiful biodiversity, categorized by phylogenetic trees into the tree of life. Each of the branches represents a major group of living things. These branches have been color-coded to show which of the three main types—or “domains”—of living things they belong to: the true bacteria, archaea, or eukaryotes. Even the table of contents is organized as part of the tree of life. The volume is filled with infographics and charts that are sometimes hard to follow but heighten the book’s design and present much information. Educators could also use this book to develop students’ disciplinary science literacy as it is written in a more accessible way than science textbooks and contains a complete overview of the biological science of phylogeny. Each page is designed in the same way for ease of use and includes a key that informs children about which part of the tree of life they are reading. Thomas features groups based on interest rather than uniformity in size or age of their common ancestor, which might cause some confusion, but overall makes the work engaging. Every time readers pick up this book they will learn something new and fascinating about life on our planet.
VERDICT A recommended title for library collections that support life science classrooms. Beautiful images and interesting inclusions set this apart from other science works.

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