The Natural World

978-1-926973-74-6. ea vol: illus. by. Ed Simkins. 32p. (The World in Infographics Series). charts. chron. diags. glossary. illus. index. maps. websites. Owlkids. 2013. PLB $15.95.
Gr 3–6—These loosely defined titles use visuals to explain their topics. With captioned pictographs, Natural World begins with the classification of living things and then includes microscopic organisms, energy production, genetics, reproduction, food webs, and evolution. It continues with examples of animal and plant extremes and endangered species. Planet (Earth) starts off with the Earth's composition, moves through tectonic plates, the rock cycle, earthquakes and volcanoes and then presents features like mountains and rivers. Each title concludes with a spread on today's environmental problems. The more complex topics tend to be about cycles e.g., energy production, (World), rock and water (Earth) and use diagrams that are readily available elsewhere. Time lines, maps, webs, and graphs are used but many of the infographics are simply rich pictures; a single graphic accompanied with a caption or labels. Some of the images need more explanation while others hardly fit the definition of infographic. Proportions are sometimes skewed and the pages get cluttered. Full-color backgrounds overlaid with brightly colored shapes, reminiscent of Lois Ehlert's earliest works, are used throughout. The contrasting text varies in size and boldness for added emphasis. In spite of some flaws, as an introduction to infographics or for die-hard data devourers, these titles will find their audience.–Carol S. Surges, formerly at Longfellow Middle School, Wauwatosa, WI

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