This Is My Planet, by Ontario naturalist and author Jan Thornhill, is the literary equivalent of a shout. The dramatic colours and design of the book will certainly grab a kid’s attention, which is something that needs to be done when it comes to global warming, but the danger with a shout is that it can sometimes drown out the message.
Every one of this book’s 64 pages is packed with photographs, cartoons, graphs, maps, paragraph-sized pieces of text, headlines, captions, and questions. Everything is highlighted in bright blues, greens, reds, and yellows, even the headings for the boxed paragraphs of text and isolated words within the text. The overall effect borders on sensory overload.
The book is divided into five sections – an overview of the planet, the polar regions, oceans, land, and people – and the pages of each section are different colours: red, pale blue, dark blue, green, or orange. However, each page is so full of illustrations and highlighted text that I only noticed this scheme on second reading.
The text is informative and covers a remarkable range of global warming topics, from living houses to plastic bath toys floating through the Northwest Passage. The attractive illustrations are appropriate and generally complement the text. In a subject that is often open to a simplistic presentation, the author does not shy away from the complexity of the biosphere’s response to global warming. For example, she describes how some colonies of Adelie penguins are threatened by sea-ice changes, while others are thriving because of increased fish stocks.
I suspect kids at the older end of the target group will object to statements such as “I live on land. And I bet you do too,” and may want more specific information than what’s contained in the single paragraphs. However, there is a lot of fascinating and important information in This Is My Planet, and it provides a useful introduction to a complex topic.