Wednesday, April 23, 2014

All About Our Home: Earth

My kids and I are part of a Coop with other homeschoolers this year.  It’s the first time we are participating to one.  What I particularly like about this coop is the fact that we study a specific theme for three weeks and then take a break for a little while.  This year, we explored the following themes so far: Pioneers, Weather, Winter Olympics and Canadian Government.   We have one more theme to cover this year with the theme of Earth coming up at the end of April.

So imagine my delight when DK Canada asked me if I wanted to review some titles on their Earthly Pleasures Boutique.

9781465414373HSmithsonian Earth   

About the book

Earth: The Definitive Visual Guide is an extraordinary survey of our planet produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution.

This stunning reference includes detailed, illustrated information about everything that makes up our planet, from Mount Kilimanjaro to the Antarctic ice sheet, as well as descriptions of more than four hundred of the Earth's most significant, unusual, greatest, and most dangerous features.

Specially commissioned new 3-D digital artwork provides a striking, informative guide to the features of our planet, explains the scientific processes that govern our world, and looks at the complex relationship between humans and the natural environment while providing a thought-provoking assessment on the state of the planet.

My Thoughts

This book is gigantic if you are wondering. With over 500 pages of detailed information on Earth no wonder that this book have a subtitled saying that it is the definitive visual guide.   Produced by the Smithsonian, the book contains thorough information on Earth and all that makes it so special to us.  From glaciers to deserts, you will find information on specific places on the planet like Gibson Desert for example.    Each section on a specific place found around the world will present the location, type, size, rainfall and temperature and sometimes show some photos from that place.  

The book is literally packed with illustrations, photos, graphs and much more on the planet, the land, the oceans, the atmosphere and the tectonic plates.

Here’s a quick view of the table of contents:

  • Planet Earth – The history of Earth, the anatomy of Earth with a view of its structure including the core, mantle, crust and more, the changing Earth
  • Land – mountains and volcanoes, rivers and lakes, glaciers, deserts, forests, wetlands, grasslands and tundra, agricultural areas, urban areas and industrial areas.
  • Ocean – Oceans and seas, coasts
  • Atmosphere – climate and weather (air masses and weather systems as well as precipitations, clouds and wind).
  • Tectonic Earth – North American, South American, Eurasian, African, Australian, Pacific and Antarctic.

While going through this book, I had great visual illustration of the surface currents in the oceans as well as the conveyor belt which we have learned in a recent lesson of geography.  I find the book is a marvelous book to own when you study Earth with your kids.   It is packed with detailed illustration which are fabulous to have when you read about a something like the different layers of the atmosphere or the circulation of air around the world.   These illustrations are very helpful to visualize the concept that is learned at the moment of the lesson.   Though I find the information contained in this book would be more for children in upper grades of school I also think that the illustrations can be use for all ages.  This is a great book to have when homeschooling multi-levels of school.

Smithsonian Geography a Visual Encyclopedia   9781465408853H

About the book

Created in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution, Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia explores every aspect of our world, from the North to the South Pole, and from the outer atmosphere to the fiery core and from natural processes to human impact.

Discover terrifying earthquakes, priceless gemstones, and storms that can destroy buildings. Understand how weather works, what causes the seasons, and the power of water to shape the landscape. Explore life on Earth, and countries and cultures from all around the world. Packed with facts, maps, explanations, illustrations, and photographs, Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia is the ultimate guide to our planet.

My Thoughts

This book is a great visual encyclopedia on everything related to geography on Earth.  

Table of contents:

  • Planet Earth – the solar system, the planets, how earth formed, the moon, scarred surface, inside our planet, magnetic Earth, Northern Lights, Earth’s crust, impact craters, moving plates, plate boundaries, earthquakes, ground shift, tsunamis, making mountains, volcanoes, eruption, cataclysm, hot springs and geysers.
  • Rocks and Minerals – elements and minerals, crystals, crystal types, crystal cave, igneous rocks, igneous intrusions, weathering, dynamic landscape, Coyote Buttes, sedimentary rocks, fossils, ancient life, rock strata, Grand Canyon, metamorphic rocks, rock cycle, and soil.
  • Water – water cycle, rivers and valleys, glaciers and ice sheets, iceberg, rivers of ice, ice ages, underground water, caves, sculpted in stone, lakes, lakes of the world, oceans and seas, world oceans, waves and currents, making waves, tides, coasts
  • Climate and Weather – atmosphere, air currents, climate zones, seasons, oceans and continents, cold desert, climate types, weather systems, cloud and fog, cloud types, rain and snow, storms and hail, tornado and hurricanes.
  • Life on Earth – a living planet, kingdoms of life, ecosystems, freshwater life, tropical forest, temperate forest, autumn color, northern forest, moorland and heath, temperate grassland, tropical grassland, desert, living deserts, desert in bloom, life in the mountains, arctic tundra, icy oceans, winter chill, life beneath the waves, deep ocean, coral reef, vital light, and on the shore.
  • The Human World – population, farming, transformed landscape, mining, industry, transportation, cities, modern cities, city lights, pollution, climate change, and conservation.
  • Mapping the World – the physical world, the political world, population density, North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Antarctica.
  • Country Factfile – North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Essentially, this book would be perfect for kids in grades 3-6 as it contains just enough information on each subject for them to retain.   It presents various aspects of the Earth’s geography throughout the book and put emphasis on specific places like for example the important lakes found around the world including the Lake Nakuru in East Central Africa where flamingos gather every year to have their babies or Lake Titicaca found at the border of Bolivia and Peru which is considered as the highest large lake in the world.   Each subject covered in this book is beautifully illustrated and accompanied with stunning photos.    I have just gone through the notions of seasons with my kids and the image included in this book is pretty self-explanatory.   The book not only present the geography of our planet but also the different kind of weather, precipitations, water cycle and so on.    A whole section of the book is about life on Earth and will present the kinds of plants and animals we can find on it.   Another section will highlights how humans can affect the planet and you can also get interesting facts about countries through the world.   I find this book is a great addition for your personal study of Earth’s geography.

9781465415929HWhat’s that Rock or Mineral?  

About the book

Compact and portable, What's That Rock, Mineral or Gem? is an indispensable beginner's pocket guide to identifying the 150 most common North American rocks and minerals.

My Thoughts

I love the What’s That books from DK because it forces the kids and I to open our eyes and explore our surrounding during the warmer months.    This new book from the series that DK has will provide a beginner introduction about rocks and minerals.   This particular book will be easy to slide in your backpack while going on an expedition with your family if you want to go find some special rocks or minerals.   To be honest, there is a possible trip to Northern Ontario for the family if my husband gets a contract with a former client.  If it happens, chances are we might go with the RV and bring the kids as well.  The town is a former mining town and I am sure we could find some gems in the outdoors while my husband is at his contract.   Though we will have to be careful not to encounter any bears while doing so.  

The book will introduce you to the world of rocks and minerals while guiding you in identifying the ones you might find in your outings.    Four main sections will concentrate on specific types of rocks and minerals:  Coarse-grained rocks, medium-grained rocks, fine-grained rocks, and minerals.   A rock gallery as well as a mineral gallery complete the book and would help you to find quickly the ones you have discovered. 

In a nutshell, this book is perfect for the amateur and those who love to learn more about things you can find in nature.

Smithsonian Nature Guide Rocks and Minerals  9780756690427H

About the book

The new DK Nature Guides form a comprehensive, accessible, and informative series of illustrated reference books that tackle key natural history subjects in DK's uniquely visual style. Produced in collaboration with expert consultants at the Smithsonian Institution, each guide is expertly written and will give you knowledge of the natural world at your fingertips.

From blue schist to blue granite, malachite to meteorites, and taconite to travertine, Nature Guide Rocks and Minerals is packed full of stunning images that reveal intricate details and unique characteristics of each rock and mineral.  Using close-up photographs of every specimen and profiles containing examples from all over the world,Nature Guide Rocks and Minerals brings revealing key facets and details perfect for quick identification.

My Thoughts

This book is a little more complete than the one previously shown.   It contains more example on how to identify the rocks and minerals you might find in your explorations in nature.   There is definitively more information about rocks and minerals in this book as well.   Each rock and mineral presented in this book will have its own profile which provide information on the hardness, specific gravity, cleavage, fracture, streak, luster, type, origin, temperature of formation, pressure of formation, structure, grain size, major minerals, minor minerals, color, precursor rock and fossils.   It will also present the chemical formula of the mineral, and example of the rock or mineral application, variants panel containing named varieties and additional specimens, the name or the mineral or rock group, as well as detailed information about it.   Fabulous pictures about the rocks and minerals found in this book are also included.

Essentially, the table on contents is divided into three mains sections:

  • Introduction -  what is a mineral?,  mineral groups and associations, classifying minerals, identifying minerals, what are crystals?, crystal habits, crystal systems, gems, what is a rock?, collecting rocks and minerals, equipment, organization, storage and cleaning.
  • Minerals – native elements, sulfides, solfosalts, oxides, hydroxides, halides, carbonates, borates, sulfates, molybdates, chromates, tungstates, phosphates, vanadates, arsenates, silicates, and organics.
  • Rocks – igneous rocks, metamorphic rocks, sedimentary rocks, meteorites.

The book is packed with detailed information on a specific rock or mineral like the one showed below.


In all, you will find over 270 pages of full profile of various rocks and minerals that you can found around the world.  This book is great to have in hand, easy to carry around and could provide much information to someone who would like to learn more about rocks and minerals.

9781465408976HEyewitness Earth  

About the book

The most trusted nonfiction series on the market, Eyewitness Books provide an in-depth, comprehensive look at their subjects with a unique integration of words and pictures.

How are earthquakes recorded? How was the Grand Canyon formed? How much of the Earth's surface is covered by water? Where do icebergs originate? With full-color photography and 3-D models of geological equipment, rocks, and minerals, Eyewitness: Earth is the perfect guide for gaining a better understanding of the secrets of life on our planet and how animals, plants, and the environment coexist.

My Thoughts

Earth is a marvelous planet.  Of all the planets included in the solar system, it is the only one who can sustain life.   This book contains a clip art CD that you can use in presentation as well as a poster that you can use to emphasize the lessons on planet Earth to your kids.  

Below is the table of contents:

  • What make up the Earth?
  • Early ideas about the Earth
  • A cocoon of gas
  • Climate in the past
  • Watery planet
  • The properties of water
  • Realms of ice
  • The building blocks
  • Investigating rocks
  • Igneous rocks
  • Sedimentary rocks
  • Metamorphic rocks
  • The challenge of the ocean
  • Modern oceanography
  • Continental drift
  • Plate tectonics
  • The formation of the ocean floor
  • Exploring the interior
  • Earthquakes and seismology
  • Volcanology
  • Mountain Building
  • Plateaux and rifts
  • Weathering processes
  • Life from rock
  • Deposition
  • Glaciation
  • The age of Earth
  • Naming the Earth
  • Did you know?
  • Geoscientists at work

The book is packed with photos, illustrations, explanation as well as information about our beautiful planet.   I love seeing the image of what an iceberg looks like as well as detailed pages on the different types of rocks.  This specific book has a marvelous image representing the tectonic plates around the world.  The book will definitively help you discover the secrets of life on our planet and learn how animals, plants, and the environment interact with each other.

Eyewitness Endangered Animals  9780756668839H

About the book

Eyewitness: Endangered Animals takes a look at creatures around the world that are currently threatened with extinction, along with the ways that we can help them survive. Starting with an overview of biodiversity and the web of life, the book then examines the threats facing a wide range of species, including polar bears, sea turtles, tree frogs, river dolphins, jaguars, pandas, gibbons, and the California condor.

My Thoughts

This marvelous book will allow you to discover why some of the world’s amazing creatures are dying out – and what you can do to protect them.  The book comes with a clip-art CD as well as a poster that you can use as part of your lesson on endangered animals.    This book is packed with stunning photos , illustrations and information about the various aspects of endangered animals.    Here’s a quick view of the table of content.

  • Wildlife under threat
  • What is a species?
  • Adapting and Survival
  • The Variety of life
  • Links in the chain
  • Measuring risk
  • Watching animals in action
  • Going, going, gone
  • Lost and found
  • Boom and bust
  • The rise of humans
  • The impact of farming
  • A world without bees?
  • Crowded out
  • Damaged landscapes
  • Climate change
  • Global amphibian decline
  • Rivers in crisis
  • Polluted world
  • Wildlife for sale
  • Sharks in peril
  • Alien invaders
  • Fighting back
  • Saving habitats
  • Captive breeding
  • California condor
  • Grassroots conservation
  • Living with the relatives
  • The future
  • Species at risk

This book can give your kids a good understanding on why some species disappeared, why some are in danger of being gone forever and how we could protect the rest of the species throughout the world.   Mind you, not everyone would agree with some of the content of the book but I think it could be useful to have at home when you consider how humans have impacted the biomes of some of the animals presented in this book.

In conclusion, I am very grateful of DK for sending me these books.  As I am preparing my presentation for the first session of the coop on Earth, I know that I will have enough references to check out in order to present the continents, the oceans, the globe and the tectonic plates.   I am confident that these books will help me to bring the lesson on a visual level for the kids attending.    Mind you some of these books also cover some aspects of the theory of evolution which we don’t really believe in this household.  But I do believe strongly in exposing my kids to both side of the coin – evolution vs creationism – in order to prepare them for higher level of school and to be able to defend their faith.  

If these books do not interest you, don’t forget that there are many more books available on the Earthly Pleasures Boutique.  Swing by their website to discover other titles that could encourage you to garden more or simply discover our planet in a more in-depth way.



Each of these books are available at your favourite bookstore, even on and

Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for sending me the above mentioned title for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

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