I don't feel like I've said this in forever, but the best thing about this book is Marc Aronson's writing. (I remembered his name from [b:Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science|434472|Sugar Changed the World A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science|Marc Aronson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348268973s/434472.jpg|423407], also an excellent book.)
This is a great example of a book with thick patches of text that beg to be read. Because the book was published by National Geographic, it fits the style we know from the magazine. Engaging visuals, paired with clear captions, and relevant text nearby. As a browser I was able to choose whether to bask in the visual experience or move into the text. I love it when books are well balanced like this. Usually DK Eyewitness books tip more to the visual, and have just okay writing (while concise and easy to read), and that style seems to have gained some dominance. I prefer this balance, because the text was real storytelling! I was having a powerful aesthetic experience just in the reading, and not because of an efferent lesson I was taking away.
As an informational book, this text focused me not only on the science but rather deeply on being a scientist. Lee Berger's personal investment in his career punctuated the amazing nature of the 2008 find (even more of a bonus for a kids' book, his son Matthew made the initial discovery)! The book tackles double the job
of some informational books, yet does both very well. I could stand to read more like this!
The pictures and words are in a complementary relationship. The careful diagrams, photos, and illustrations sometimes tell more story than is there in the text--or tell the same story but more powerfully so. While they do not add bits to the narrative not there in the text, it's hard to argue that something like the reconstructions on p. 42 or p. 50 aren't narratives of their own. All this makes me want to go and get Aronson's recent John Henry book, [b:Ain't Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry|1786934|Ain't Nothing but a Man My Quest to Find the Real John Henry|Scott Reynolds Nelson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1320462292s/1786934.jpg|1785833].