Finally, the closing chapter focuses on how science
and innovation go hand-in-hand in the form of
engineering, invention, and problem solving.
One of my favorite parts of this book is its
focus on failure as a positive, noting that when
things do not work, rather than giving up we continue to push for solutions. This book was a great
surprise for the price and would be highly useful
as a classroom exploration book, reading book,
or even class text for lower-elementary kids in
addition to being a great gift book for kids who
just love science.
Ocean: Secrets of the Deep. By Sabrina Weiss
and Giulia De Amicis. 2019. What On Earth
Books. (ISBN 978-1-9999-6807-6). 72 pp. Hardcover. $19.99.
When I first opened this book, I was somewhat
expecting a picture book for very young children,
as the images on the cover are in rich color and,
while reasonably accurate, not anatomically precise.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to find enough
information about oceans, ocean life, and the
impact and role of the oceans surrounding life on
Earth that I had to take a moment of appreciation.
The richness of the information in this short book –
from oceanography and ocean lore to conserva-
tion and protection of our oceans – more than rea-
sonably touches on a wide range of information in
a way that is interesting and engaging to the
reader. While my initial thought was “children’s
book,” I can honestly say that I gleaned a bit of
new information from this book, or at least it
refreshed my memory a bit, but I also found
myself really enjoying the way the information is
organized in a way that teaches and supports
without feeling like a lesson book or a lecture.
Wilderness: Earth’s Amazing Habitats. By Mia
Cassany and Marcos Navarro. Prestel. (ISBN
978-3-7913-7372-0). 21 pp. Hardcover. $19.95.
This very neat book is one part biodiversity
mixed with one part geography. While the focus
of the brief written bits is on describing specific
habitats, the imagery on the pages captures a
glimpse of the unique life, plant and animal, that
can be found in each. The book is neither long
nor wordy, but it is a great way to introduce kids
to specific environments that they likely have not
heard of. While many books on habitat highlight
very general places or categories of places, this
book takes its exploration to a much deeper level,
focusing on places such as Niokolo-Koba National
Park (Senegal), the Qinling Mountains (China), the
Rainbow Forest (Hawaii), and the rainforest of
Madagascar. While the focus is mostly on the places, with beautiful drawings representing each,
readers are encouraged to learn more in the form
of a creature index at the back of the book, which
returns to each of the pages to introduce the plant
and animal life shown for each location with a brief
description and name.
TABLE AND SPECIALTY BOOKS
The World of Dinosaurs: An Illustrated Tour. By
Mark A. Norell. University of Chicago Press. (ISBN
978-0-226-62272-9). 239 pp. Hardcover. $32.50.
Dinosaurs have captured our attention and
our hearts since the ground gave up the first fossils
and we began to understand these giant creatures
from prehistory. Almost anyone can name a dino-
saur, and some have such attachment to their favor-
ites that even in adulthood they are struck with awe
at any encounter. The World of Dinosaurs is the per-
fect gift for just that person. There is a great deal to
discuss, read, and explore within the pages of this
beautiful, informational coffee-table book.
Throughout these 239 pages are incredible
stories of discovery, identification, and trouble-
shooting that have surrounded many of the
specimens. The author begins with overviews
that highlight not only what qualifies something
as a dinosaur but how they are found, what we
know about their biology, where they fit in the
historical timeline, and how we classify organ-
isms that we know only from fossils. Then begins
an adventure through various branches of the
dinosaur family tree, from Saurischia, with
numerous examples of theropods and sauropods;
to Ornithischia, including thyreophorans and
neornithischian subgroups of Marginocephalia
and Ornithopoda. Each organism is noted by
its Latin name and discussed in great detail.
Accompanying each discussion are high-quality
photographs of the fossils, both in collections
and, when possible, in discovery; scientists and
curators who are closely associated with the
specimens; and renderings that highlight our
most current understanding of these incredible
creatures (FEATHERS!). The final feature of the
book is a section on modern dinosaurs, the avi-
ans we now know them to be, and extinction.
Overall the book is exceptionally well put
together, with a fantastic combination of imagery
and discussion of the science behind all we know
about them today.