Smithsonian Discover: Earth

By Dorothea DePrisco
Published on 03 March 2015
Published by Silver Dolphin Books
Source: Publisher
With Smithsonian Discover: Earth, kids can take a tour of Earth’s fiery core, scale Mount Everest, scuba-dive in the Great Barrier Reef, and hunker down during a hurricane, all without ever leaving the safety of their living rooms. A must-have for any kid who calls Earth home, this engaging book contains three sections: Amazing Earth (all about the inside and outside of the planet), the Blue Planet (covering awesome oceans, raging rivers, and great lakes), and Wild Weather (which explains the science of weather and goes inside natural disasters). Each page contains science presented simply, and facts backed by the museum professionals of the Smithsonian.

The compelling content is only the tip of the iceberg (only a tenth of which floats above the ocean’s surface, as you’ll learn). This engaging title also delivers hands-on activities like you would find at the Smithsonian. Bound right into the book are 12 Earth fact cards, a large double-sided map of the world, and materials to construct a three-dimensional paper globe. Though we walk its surface every day, Smithsonian Discover: Earth will surely teach kids that Earth is one fascinating planet!

Alright, so I have a few posts with Smithsonian branding going up and no idea in what order they're going to happen, so I'm going to say this once and hope that this is the first one. I love the Smithsonian. Like, a lot. I remember tearing into my mom's magazine subscription as a kid and just devouring all this cool stuff and then going on our 8th grade field trip to DC and being really upset that we only spent like half a day at the museum complex and not the whole trip. Not, of course that there aren't a wealth of historically and culturally significant things in DC and environs to see. There are. But I would've moved into those museums if I could. I'm going to do my very best not to make these reviews super biased, but y'all need to understand my unbridled glee when I got to open a box with that word in it. It absolutely speaks to the successful branding the folks there have done for themselves over the decades and I need to get out to DC again so I can roll around in knowledge. They also need to finish the renovations in the Nat. History museum so I can get some dinosaur action on. But there, I've said it. I trust this brand. I have serious nostalgia feels about this brand. Maybe you do too. Let's be pals about it.

Discover: Earth is something that probably would've been better for me as a child than the Atlas of my mom's that I found and subsequently devoured only to get really depressed about the eventual heat death of the universe. Look, readers, we've probably established something of a one-sided rapport by this point where you absolutely know that my reviews are going to be accompanied by unnecessary anecdotes and asides. I'm sorry. I was given an empty text box and have issues with being on topic. And not getting upset about the eventual heat death of the universe.

This book gives a lot of information in digestible chunks. It doesn't overwhelm kids with scientific terms, but it doesn't shy away from them either. There is a lot to look at on every page from gorgeous photography to little boxes of fast facts and the amount of beginning knowledge in this book is actually amazing. It goes through ecosystems and the water cycle and various kinds of bodies of water and their importances and differences. Like straight up I didn't know why a sea was a sea, I just accepted that there was a reason for it and that was what it was called and moved on with my life. This book not only tells you why but numbers them. Properly. None of that sailing the seven seas stuff which to be honest never made a lot of sense to me in the first place. I'm gonna go google that later, 'cause now I've gotten fairly cross about it.

There's a globe you can punch out and construct (which I didn't, I'm waiting for the 8 year old in my life to have time in her very busy schedule to do arts and crafts with Mr. Reg instead of just drawing me a dinosaur and running off to go do other awesome things,) and trivia cards and a poster with cool other environmental stuff printed on it. But the section that got me the most was the last one. You see, at heart I'm still that little kid who's all distraught about the heat death of the universe. That kid who has been through a tornado and is very glad to be currently living in a basement so that if I sleep through the sirens I won't be too dead.

That's right. Weather and Natural Disasters. Oh it starts out calmly enough. The desert, the tundra, oh look volcanos exist. And then it goes straight into earthquakes and tsunamis and all these things that are basically a fact of life for people in various places of the world much like tornados and blizzards are here both of which are included in the book. They talk about droughts and fire-seasons and all this super interesting stuff that kids should learn about.

The book isn't a true atlas by any means, but it's a good primer and from a trusted source. There are points where to me the page is just a little too busy. But I'm not a kid anymore and I've spent too much of my life conditioned to boring textbooks so yeah, I probably would be overstimulated. The book itself is fairly sturdy, though I'd definitely agree with the publisher that it's for ages 8 and up. It's a neat book, and a good jumping off point for getting your kids (or your friends' kids or relatives or or or etc) into science things properly and fostering that curiosity. Rest assured, as far as I saw this book did not once mention the eventual heat death of the universe, though I'm pretty sure you can find that in Discover: Space.

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