Winner of the 2011 Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize
It is so refreshing to come across a science book for young people that is genuinely different, not just another Dorling Kindersley clone. (I have nothing against DK, by the way, but their style is everywhere these days).
The only hangover from the DK approach is that this book is structured as a series of 2 page spreads, but these are lush, interactive spreads which contain everything from pop-ups and pull tabs to a little flickbook (used to animate the sequence of movement of the tectonic plates to form continents). In fact that flickbook animation is a sclue as to what this really is. It’s the sort of thing you would think of doing these days with a website or an iPad app, but rendered in cardboard and paper.
The fancy interactivity doesn’t mean that the book is sparse in material. The nine two-page spreads cover the solar system, life on Earth, plate tectonics and mountain formation, the water cycle, weather, ocean currents, carbon and the greenhouse effect, plants and the environment and food chains. Each of these has a good mix of factoids, illustrations (in a slightly swirly arty fashion) and interactive elements.
Just occasionally it seemed as if the interaction was there because there ought to be something rather than because it added anything – for instance when you pulled a tab and all that happened was a piece of card emerged with more text on it. But on the whole the interactions were attention grabbing and managed to cram more information into a limited space.
Traditionally pop-up books have been aimed either at the very young or adults (Jan Pienkowski springs to mind), but this is a pop-up plus book that will capture the imagination of children in its target age range. There are parts of it that might be a little worse for wear after being exposed to a nine-year-old, but any concerns about that are really adult worries rather than the children’s.
The subtitle of the book is ‘a hands-on guide to our amazing planet’ and it very much does what it says on the tin. Recommended.
Review by Jo Reed