Most of the Better Natural Things in the World – Dave Eggers, illustrated by Angel Chang

  Most of the Better Natural Things in the World – Dave Eggers, illustrated by Angel Chang, Chronicle Books LLC, 9781452162829, 2019

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Picture book/Nonfiction

 What did you like about the book? This book is exactly what a picture book should be–filled with beautiful illustrations. This book is made up of a collection of words representing different types of landforms including gorge, valley, estuary, lagoon, and foothills just to name a view. In this book, we see a white tiger travelling through these landforms with a single yellow wooden chair anchored to his back. Each two-page spread is filled with beautiful illustrations of the landforms with a single word defining the landform. In the tundra, the lion is resting peacefully under a nighttime sky filled with the aurora borealis. In the atoll, he is swimming among colorful coral and sea creatures. On the glacier, he hops from ice peak to ice peak as a mother polar bear and her cubs look on. The very last landform is a taiga and waiting for him is his family–all sitting on yellow chairs around a yellow table (now we know why he was carrying a yellow chair!).

The illustrations provided by Angel Chang are beautiful! They are colorful, dreamy and filled with small details to delight young children. Chang has cleverly hidden a little brown mouse on each page that makes a fun seek-and-find for children.

 Anything you did not like about the book. The entire book only has one word on each page and that is the name of the landform; however, the back of the book provides more detail on these different landforms. I am not sure if this would have distracted from the illustrations, but I would have preferred to have these definitions directly on the page of the landform–as opposed to reading the information and then going back and forth to each picture. I am not as familiar with all landforms (for example, steppe, chaparral, and isthmus) so I would have preferred the descriptions on each page.

To whom would you recommend this book? This book would be perfect for children between the ages of four and six. Younger children will enjoy the beauty of the pictures and travelling with the tiger throughout the different lands while older children might be more interested in the different landforms. This would be a great introduction book for that topic.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary libraries, preschools, daycare centers, anyone who works with children between the ages of four and six. Great for elementary school science classrooms.

Where would you shelve it? This is tricky. Technically, it appears to be a nonfiction book in that there is no story and the reader learns the names and physical features of different landforms. However, this might get a little lost among the shelves of more detailed and technical books about landforms. There is a bit of a story, but this is created in the imagination of the reader, more like a wordless book.

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: February 6, 2020


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