I am running out of superlatives for Dorling Kindersley’s books for children. This 304-page hard-backed book is aimed at children aged 8 and above, and it gives a comprehensive overview of the physical world.
It is comprehensive and encyclopedic in the sense that it covers a wide range of topics, starting with physical geography – how the earth was formed, going on to geology, a section on water in all its forms, climate and the weather, life on earth, the human world, mapping the world, and finally a short section on every country in the world, grouped by continents (plus a glossary and an index).
However, none of the sections is overwordy. The descriptions and explanations are succinct, partly because in DK fashion the book is full of fabulous photos, which tell the story without words. Anyone who wants to follow up meteorology or tectonic subduction in detail will need to find more specialised books, but I think that this book has two main aims. First, it offers the basic understanding of the subject which one would hope that almost every junior school child should be able to achieve. Secondly, the superb design, the illustrations and the limited but clear text should encourage children to ask more, to enquire and to seek to learn for themselves, which is more valuable than any crammed facts.
Looking to the future, students of all ages are likely to use electronic means to communicate, find out facts and learn, but there will still be room for books like this. Every junior school should have multiple copies; it will be a good investment. It will be an investment too for parents of junior school children, or a suitable present from other relatives.
One has to look in the small print at the front to find the author’s name, which is a pity, as he merits a medal. But this may be DK’s policy, as producing a book like this depends on teamwork and a total of 36 people are named as having contributed one way or another, and that didn’t include the two pages of acknowledgements at the end of the book and the staff of Hung Hing, who printed the book in Hong Kong. They deserve medals all round; a superb book.
Woodward, John (2013) Geography: A Children’s Encyclopedia
Dorling Kindersley, London