Book Review: The Solar System Through Infographics

28 Oct

Today’s book review is for The Solar System Through Infographics, written by Nadia Higgins, illustrated by Lisa Waananen, published by Lerner Publishing Group. It is scheduled to be released on friday, November 1, 2013. I received an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The first thing that I want to say about this book is that the title is a bit misleading. It would be more appropriately titled “Astronomy Through Infographics”, since it covers a lot of astronomical phenomena that are not found within our solar system. That said, it’s an excellent resource for anyone who is interested in learning more about astronomy.

Higgins presents the sometimes overwhelming subject of astronomy in language that is accessible and easy to understand. She uses a congenial, relaxed tone to engage her readers and make science cool, rather than intimidating. The information presented was in accordance with what I learned in my astrophysics class at university, so I’d also say that she seems to have done well at presenting accurate information to her audience, as well. The one area where I think she could have done a better job was in distinguishing between weight and mass in the text–particularly because there is a table of weights on different planets in pounds and kilograms–where the SI unit should be Newtons. That said, it’s not a major issue.

It’s Waananen’s graphics that really make the book, though. Her vector art style and bold color choices are eye-catching. And her infographics illustrate important concepts and ideas through timelines, flow charts, tables, graphs, and more. Besides helping kids to understand astronomy better, these graphics also introduce them to various tools that they can use to communicate ideas to others. In this way, the book pulls double duty on the educational value front.

What I love most is the overall design. Before I had even gotten past the front matter I was thinking “this is a cool book!” It’s hip and on-trend. Rather than presenting information linearly, the book is set up so that you can jump around. Information appears in small chunks that can be easily digested before young minds get distracted. By using multiple typefaces, readers can distinguish different types of information on the page, as well. At the end, the book includes a glossary, index, and suggestions for further information (books and websites)–making it not just pretty, but also functional.

Whether you have a child who is fascinated by astronomy or one who is science-phobic, this book is a great choice to nurture an interest in the subject. I think it’s a 5 out of 5 star book–it’s educational, it’s visually appealing, it’s functional, and it engages a variety of learning styles. It would make a great tool in the classroom and an excellent resource for a library.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.

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