Rachel Ignotofsky’s book, The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth, introduces young readers to ecology using a combination of science and art. Beginning with concepts such as energy flow, succession, and ecosystem the author lays a foundation for understanding the relationship between all living things and the problems that arise as humans interact with their environment. Written for children ages 10-17, the book urges readers to learn more about the planet so they can take from the earth without destroying it, and protect it for the future.
The major part of the book introduces the readers to the major ecosystems of the world by continent. Each continent begins with a map showing the major biomes followed by a two page spread on four of the major ecosystems on the continent . In North America, for example, the redwood forest, the northern Great Plains, the Florida mangrove swamp, and the Mohave desert are described including the unique characteristics of the ecosystem, interaction of its animals and plants, and the impact of humans. Each section ends with a short discussion of the biggest benefits of the ecosystem to the planet as well as the greatest threats to its existence. Final sections of the book treat 4 aquatic ecosystems, the cycles of nature, and the unique relationship between humans and the earth with special attention paid to climate change and suggestions for protecting the planet.
The huge amount of material covered in the book could be overwhelming but is made accessible through the abundant art work and the organization of the text which allows readers to read small sections in any order. A glossary and list of sources for further learning concludes the work. An excellent book for exploring the natural world.
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