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Friday, February 18, 2011

Not All Books Are Created Equal

You know that feeling you get when you see a book with a topic that interests you and it has a beautiful cover? And you think, Wow, this could be a really comprehensive but visually interesting piece of media through which kids could learn? And then you open the pages with heightened anticipation, only to find upon closer observation that it really isn't very good at all?

Okay, so maybe it's just me. Regardless, here's a book that fell far short of my hopes, dreams, and expectations. (Be sure to take this all with a grain of salt as I love geology--my standards are perhaps a bit high and my criticism perhaps a bit harsh. Maybe.)

Earth Science -- The Rock Cycle published by AV2 (WEIGL) is one of many non-fiction titles that the company has published for "bridging the gap between print and digital." That's all well and good, but in order for that "bridge" to be succesful, the print version has to be well organized and comprehensive, two things that The Rock Cycle is not.

This book attempts to introduce an unfamiliar audience with the rock cycle and the processes that accompany it. Though the information included is accurate and thorough, and the photographs are vivid and catching, the overall organization is extremely poor, making it difficult for readers to process. Bolded terms throughout the text are listed in the back as 'Words to Know,' but while basic words such as 'dense' and 'adapt' are included, important geologic terms mentioned in the text itself are excluded, such as 'metamorphic' and 'uniformitarianism.' In the text, shorter sentences break up the information, though a lot of new terms are occasionally packed into a small space, making a strong index a valuable commodity. Images do not always match the text well, and some vocabulary words are introduced early on, far before their definitions or first contextual usage appear. Overall this book could benefit from selective emphasis on additional terms as well as bullet points or lists mixed into paragraphs to help break down ideas.

The book-to-internet use is a nice concept, I'll give them that. A science experiement in the back, along with a list of (rather useless) random facts and study questions, allow for student interaction in addition to online content. If you're a school librarian looking for supplemental materials, at the least the facts included are sound. If, however, you're looking for a great, grand, exciting, and easy-to-follow introduction to the rock cycle, you're much better off elsewhere. (Note: I can't speak for the other books in the series as I haven't read them yet.)


Age 8+
Copyright 2011
ISBN: 9781605969671
Image from www.weigl.com

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