Richard Platt (text), James Brown (illus.) A World of Information, Walker Books Australia, 1 Nov 2016, 64pp., $29.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781406370843
Ever since the publication of Stephen Biesty’s Incredible Cross-sections, Richard Platt has been a legend in the field of children’s information books. With more than 70 titles to his name, he has written on many subjects. This latest title is a compendium of facts, a miscellany of interesting titbits from a wide variety of subject areas.
Each double-page spread features one topic area. These can range from different types of knots to music notation to Mohs scale of mineral hardness. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the arrangement of these topics, so this book is designed for dipping in and out as desired. Its large 28 x 38 cm format makes it difficult to read in bed or pack in a school bag but sprawling on the floor with the book open flat would work well.
Each cream-coloured double page is bordered and illustrated with a different colour, giving a monochrome old-fashioned feel to the contents. This beautiful but nostalgic design may well appeal to book-buying adults and explaining most of the topics does require diagrams rather than multi-coloured photographs. Whether it will appeal as much to the multi-screen generation which tends to Google anything it wishes to know remains to be seen.
Much of the information included is valuable as a reference tool. There is no index but the table of contents is fairly self-explanatory. An attractive volume but is it a throwback to yesteryear? Only time will tell.
Reviewed by Lynne Babbage