Natural history of our world

Brake, Mark  The Big Earth Book: How Our Planet Was Shaped by Earth, Air, Fire, and Wind
Gr. 4–6     256 pp.     Lonely Planet

Illustrated by Brendan Kearney. This attractive oversize book is all about Earth: "how it was formed, what shaped it, and how it came to be full of living things." Organized into sections of earth, air, fire, and water, each topic gets one jam-packed spread with cartoony illustrations (and occasionally photos). Although inevitably rather scattershot, the volume's accessible text and interesting content should please browsers. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Earth Science; Astronomy—Earth; Air; Fire; Water

Gladstone, James  When Planet Earth Was New
Gr. K–3     40 pp.     Owlkids

Illustrated by Katherine Diemert. This book's poetic text aims to trace a big concept: Earth's formation and the evolution of life through billions of years to the present day. Cosmic collisions, volcanic explosions, and the emergence of living creatures are rendered in wild and vibrant ink, collage, and digital art. The final spread includes thumbnails and further explanations of the action depicted in prior spreads. Websites. Bib., glos.
Subjects: Earth Science; Astronomy—Earth; Earth science—Geology; Evolution; Natural history

Hale, Christy  Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Roaring Brook/Porter

Die-cuts serve useful and playful purpose in this blue- and beige-colored introduction to Earth's various meetings of water and landforms. A boy fishes on a pond while a girl plays ashore; turn the page, and the pond becomes an island where the girl is stranded. The cleverness continues as a bay becomes a cape, a strait an isthmus, etc., with funny little human dramas to encourage close examination.
Subjects: Earth Science; Toy and movable books; Water

Lendler, Ian  One Day a Dot
Gr. K–3     40 pp.     Roaring Brook/First Second

Illustrated by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb. The book's tagline ("the story of you, the universe, and everything") captures the scope of this ambitious, whirlwind tour of the Big Bang, the formation of the solar system, and the evolution of life on Earth. The metaphorical "dot" provides a touchpoint as the narrative jumps around, standing in for subatomic particles, a wayward asteroid, etc. Comics-style illustrations in subdued earth tones extend the dot concept. Timeline.
Subjects: Earth Science; Astronomy—Earth; Astronomy—Cosmology; Astronomy—Universe; Evolution; Natural History

Miller, Ron  Recentering the Universe: The Radical Theories of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton
Middle school, high school     88 pp.     Twenty-First Century

During the Renaissance, scientific conceptions of the universe shifted from an earth-centered to a sun-centered perspective. Miller profiles the scientific thinkers behind this shift, the evidence they relied on to argue their theories, and the ways in which scientific and religious communities struggled with seemingly radical conceptual change. Historical illustrations in a greenish sepia tone accompany the thorough text. Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Astronomy; Newton, Isaac, Sir; Galileo; Kepler, Johannes; Copernicus, Nicolaus; Astronomy—Universe; Renaissance

From the November 2018 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.
Horn Book
Horn Book

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more