From School Library Journal
Grade 5 Up-These oversized volumes are attractive, but not very useful for those with no background in the subjects. They are both topically arranged on double-page spreads full of full-color photos, diagrams, and drawings. However, they lack significant features that one generally associates with a "dictionary"-definitions, pronunciations, and alphabetical order. Measurements are given only in the English system. Earth effectively shows different map projections, but none of the examples of sedimentary rocks have visible layering; on the cave page there is nothing to help readers visualize how cave formations grow, and there are some errors in the depiction of "Evolution of the Earth." Donald M. Silver's Earth (Random, 1989) makes good use of drawings to present a more comprehensible picture. Universe's drawings and diagrams mislead by both omission and commission. For each planet, bar graphs show atmospheric composition with no hint of density, so that readers get the impression that Venus's extremely dense atmosphere and Mars's extremely sparse atmosphere are nearly the same. Cut-away views are not to scale and are without enough dimensions given to figure out what they should look like. The diagram of planetary orbits is not to scale either. Space exploration technology comes closer to expectations, but once the Viking Lander's "meteorology sensor equipment" has been pointed out, readers are not much wiser. Those in search of enlightenment would do better to turn to any of many standard astronomy titles.Margaret Chatham, formerly at Smithtown Library, NY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4 and up. Any book purporting to be a visual dictionary of the universe is setting itself an impossible goal, considering that "the universe contains everything that exists, from the tiniest subatomic particles to galactic superclusters." Yet, using the same format that has proved so appealing in the Eyewitness series, Dorling Kindersley supplies gloriously colored illustrations of the galaxies, stars, and planets; the asteroids, comets, and meteoroids that travel among them; the telescopes that observe them; space exploration equipment; and lunar exploration vehicles. Each subject occupies a generous double-page spread strewn with multiple, labeled illustrations and corresponding information. The sophisticated design, which involves generous use of white space, manages to appear uncluttered and invites browsing. If the book fails to show everything in the universe, it at least displays some very important parts, illustrates them beautifully, and makes the reader curious to know more and explore further. Sheilamae O'Hara