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Children's LiteratureNational Geographic has produced an atlas that is packed with information about our planet. This very reader-friendly atlas will be a great resource for students. It begins with the big picture and briefly talks about how the earth fits into our solar system, how it rotates, and how the seasons and days work. Next, the different types of map projections are discussed, as well as how cartographers make them. It also gives a clear explanation of how to read maps, the symbols, the scales, and the different kinds of maps. The following pages contain maps about the different physical systems of the world. There are separate maps for geological features, historical features, land and water features, climates, climate controls, natural vegetation, environmental hot spots, political world, population, main cities, languages, world religions, predominant world economies, food production, fresh water supplies, energy and mineral resources, world conflicts, world refugees, globalization, cultural diffusion, and time zones. Lots of full-color photographs accompany the maps, including many showing population, giving a human face to the numbers. The second half of the book has a chapter devoted to each of the seven continents. Each continent chapter opens with a beautiful full-page spread based on a satellite image of the featured continent. There is a brief introduction and a section listing some geographical facts, including number of countries and population statistics. Over the next several pages of each chapter the same continent is shown in several different maps: an elevation map, a precipitation map, a population map, and a predominant economies map. The exception is the chapter on NorthAmerica which has additional political maps and elevation maps for each of the three main countries: Canada, United States, and Mexico. At the end of each continent chapter there is a double-page spread titled "Focus on" that shows photographs from that area of the world. Each continent has a different focus and adds one more way of looking at the world. For example, Asia's "Focus on" section is all about world heritage sites and includes a map of Asia pinpointing its important sites. The back matter contains a thematic index, a place name index, an extensive list of related web sites, and a glossary. Also included is a colorful display of flags and facts from the countries of the world. Under a picture of each country's flag, the reader can find the land area, the population, the capital city, and the main languages spoken in that country. The countries in this section are listed under the continent in which they appear. This makes it easy to match the flag to a particular country within this atlas. Even the endpapers contain a wealth of information: Metric conversion tables appear on one side and an interesting list of world facts on the other. Readers can look up the longest, highest, deepest, and other extremes. It even gives quick reference for some abbreviations. This book is part of National Geographic Society's series of atlases, which includes World Atlas for Young Explorers and The United States Atlas for Young Explorers, among others. Each of these has recently been revised and updated. 2005 (orig. 2001), National Geographic Society, Ages 7 to 14.
—Sally J. K. Davies