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Review of Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth

Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth
by Nicola Davies; illus. by Emily Sutton
Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.    g
11/17    978-0-7636-9483-8    $15.99

“How many different kinds of living things are there on our planet? One, two, three, MANY!” With this important question and response, Davies begins her consideration of biodiversity, starting with the idea that there can be many kinds, or species, of one living thing (two kinds of elephants; more than six hundred kinds of oak trees), and gradually explaining that these many kinds of things can live and interact with one another. Humans enter the equation, too, first through a young girl (equipped with notebook and pencil to count the kinds of organisms) depicted within many of the illustrations and then later in descriptions of the disruptive effects of human activities on the environment and the importance of protecting biodiversity. Sutton’s spectacular illustrations, filled with tens or hundreds of living things, take the concept of “many” to the extreme: the pictures are dense yet delicate, full of color and life and movement; readers could spend hours counting all the different species pictured in forests, deserts, and the ocean or in collection baskets, on tables, and in museum dioramas. Davies has a keen sense of how to represent science for beginners. Sentences as sensible and jargon-free as “Sometimes, things that look different are really the same…and things that look the same are really different” contain deep mathematical and biological concepts that include ecosystems and interdependence, relative quantities, biomes, food webs, and the classification of living things.

From the November/December 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford About Danielle J. Ford

Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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