Tag Archives: maps

Explanatorium of Nature / Urban Jungle

Explanatorium of Nature
DK

This definitely isn’t a book to carry around in your school bag unless you want to do a bit of weight training; it’s an extremely heavy tome (more than 2Kg) with over 350 pages including contents, glossary and index.
Its conventional structure takes readers through ten sections starting with The Basics of Life, followed by a journey through living things from Microorganisms and Fungi right through to Mammals and taking in, by turn, Plants, Invertebrates, Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, and finally, Habitats.
As you might expect, The Basics of Life covers the origins of life, reproduction, cells and how they work, DNA, evolution and classification, each being allocated a double spread.
Thereafter, each section is further broken down into one or two double page spreads per topic, ‘Algae’ for example or ‘How chemical defences work’, and includes a main photographic illustration and information surrounded by smaller pictures, labels and additional facts.
The photography is amazing and the book is packed with a great deal of fascinating information presented in a manner that makes the whole thing feel inviting without being overwhelming.

There’s even a superb die-cut cover.
It works well as a book to browse through or to seek specific information from, and would be great to give a budding young biologist.
One for the family bookshelf or school library.

Urban Jungle
Vicky Woodgate
Big Picture Press

My goodness, this is a large volume but it’s one animal lovers in particular will enjoy spending time exploring, along with author/illustrator, Vicky Woodgate, who is passionate about wildlife and travel. Herein she takes readers on a whistle-stop tour of 38 cities on six continents exploring the plethora of animals to be found there.
Each of the enticing city maps depicts fauna large and small, some commonly seen, others seldom sighted. Barcelona for instance has a wealth of birds – peregrine falcons in the bell tower of the Sagrada Familia for instance – something I’ve not appreciated in my numerous visits to the city and its environs.

I was however aware of the presence of leopards in Mumbai, another city I’ve visited on many occasions, although I’ve never seen a leopard roaming. I have though seen the three-striped palm squirrels whizzing around, and the beautiful purple-rumped sunbirds.

Most familiar to me is the rich variety of birds and animals in London and the suburbs that it’s all too easy to take for granted wandering through say, Richmond Park with its herds of deer and those pesky parakeets; or the red foxes that roam the streets looking for rodents, or rubbish bins to rummage. Then there are those majestic swans one frequently sees on the Thames; but I’ve never seen, or was even aware of there being a short-snouted seahorse living in its waters.
I found myself getting drawn into this stylish book, turning first to the 8 maps of the cities I’ve spend time in, and then going on to explore other urban jungles. I’m sure children will love browsing its expansive pages, enjoying the portraits of the animal residents of each city, as well as discovering the fascinating facts about them. An expert from each location has fact-checked the information to ensure that this walk on the wild side of the world’s busiest cities is accurate as well as exciting.

Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures / Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures

Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures
Matt Sewell
Pavilion Books

Of the 1,000 dinosaur species that have already been identified, (so we’re told in the introduction) some fifty grace the pages of this beautifully illustrated book by wildlife author and artist Matt Sewell.
In a note about his illustrations Sewell reminds readers that rather than imagining them as big lizards with muddy-brown or dull green scales, palaeontologists now think that many dinosaurs may have been colourful creatures, some even feathered,. This is reflected in his illustrations herein. Did you know for instance that Yutyrannus, a relation of Tyrannosaurus rex, discovered in 2012 had a complete covering of feathers?

Accompanying each one is a paragraph or two of factual information into which the author injects not only occasional surprises but gentle humour too.
I was fascinated to learn that the ‘teenage’ Pachycephalosaurus, termed ‘Stygimoloch’ aka ‘the horned devil from the river of death’ lost its horns in adulthood.

Splendid to look at – I love the large images set against a plain white background – and likely to have a wide age appeal.

Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures
Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland
Wide Eyed Editions

This enormous volume – a veritable prehistoric journey of discovery – comes from the team behind Atlas of Adventures.
Herein, through a series of maps

and large colourful dino-inhabited scenes, readers are taken, one continent after another, on a world tour of the various different land regions over different eras, up to the late Cretaceous period when the creatures died out. This was due, it’s thought, to a massive meteorite colliding with Earth resulting in mass extinction that effectively ‘wiped out most of life on Earth.’
Thirty-one dinosaurs (or prehistoric reptiles) are featured (frequently hunter and hunted) but many others are also named and given brief descriptions in the richly coloured scenes within which they’re shown.

Various aspects of dinosaur life, including birth, learning to fly (that’s baby Pteranodons – ‘cousins of the dinosaurs’), to being killed by predators are included and each spread, in addition to the large descriptive paragraph, and the mini info-bank for each creature featured, is littered with relevant, and often memorable, facts. What child is likely to forget that ‘the ‘massive droppings of T-Rex were as long as a human arm and weighed the same as a 6-month-old baby’?
I’m less keen though on some of the visual humour. For instance the Leaellynasaurus (Australian) sporting a striped scarf and bobble hat; or the Oviraptors in what is now Mongolia, wielding what looks like a butterfly net, while perhaps appealing to dinosaur-mad children, to me seemed a tad too frivolous.
Nonetheless, this is a bumper feast of dino-info. and a novel way of presenting same. It’s likely to appeal widely: I certainly learned a fair bit from it.

Charles Darwin’s Around the World Adventure

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Charles Darwin’s Around the World Adventure
Jennifer Thermes
Abrams
In this introduction to the work of Charles Darwin, the author focuses on his five-year long voyage aboard HMS Beagle, the ship on which he served as naturalist. Before that though we’re given brief details of his earlier life leading up to his departure on the ship whose mission was making maps of South America.
The young man was absolutely fascinated by the sights and sounds around. He kept a journal, writing in it detailed daily observations of what he saw and heard –‘big observations about the tiniest of creatures’ we’re told.

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So delighted by the wild life was he that Charles would often choose to remain on land while the Beagle sailed up and down the coast. This delight is portrayed in Thermes’ detailed watercolour portraits of the young man at work, work that set his imagination on fire and would later contribute to his ideas and writings on evolution. Her narrative fills in other details, particularly that of Darwin’s observations on individual creatures: ‘He saw a rare bird called a rhea that used its wings to steer as it ran, but could not fly’, and later in Tierra de Fuego, on the interconnectedness of all wild-life, indeed all of nature itself.

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The stop on the volcanic Galápagos Islands particularly amazed Charles with its 200 pound tortoises big enough to ride on, but most notably the different kinds of finches he came across.

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In addition to a detailed cross-section of the departing Beagle, there are large, colourful maps charting the exciting voyage for readers to enjoy …

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Further information is given about Darwin’s life and work, and other related facts in the two final spreads.
All in all this does a very good job of capturing the excitement not only of the voyage, but of the wonders of nature as a whole. Definitely one for the primary school bookshelves and for individuals interested in wildlife in general.