While kids will find lots of detailed information here, the presentation is strangely lacking. Photographs, while beautiful, aren't well captioned, informational graphics are rare and uninspired, and the text is presented in large, dense blocks with no headings. The language is matter-of-fact and challenging, which bright kids will appreciate, but the lack of display type, graphics, and sidebars make it especially difficult to draw in less enthusiastic readers. That's a shame, because there's much to learn and marvel at in this series. Older children will get more out of these; all but the most curious younger kids will enjoy the pictures and lose interest in the text.
Our Solar System
Simon paints a beautiful portrait of each planet, comparing and contrasting with Earth to help kids get a solid grasp of the information. This tour of our solar system is one of his meatiest books, touching on ancient beliefs, current science, and the question of whether life exists elsewhere.
Simon focuses on how human activity is affecting global climate (though he notes that the planet might be in a natural warming cycle), and explains how small changes in climate can have major impacts on people and wildlife. He closes by touching on ways people -- from families to nations -- might be able to slow the trend.
These personable creatures are a fascinating subject, and Simon explores their social behavior, communication, and hunting and feeding techniques before detailing several species. He leaves readers with some tips for helping to protect dolphins and porpoises.
Vibrant images -- predominantly full-page photographs -- are visually arresting and complement the text, though the addition of captions would make them more useful.