Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Emily Sutton is a phenomenal informational picture book about living things on our planet. The story is told from the perspective of a little girl learning about the world around her and strives to explain the differences between species, relationships between species, habitats, and the importance of taking care of our planet to protect our natural diversity. The book is filled with vivid, watercolor pictures accompanied by succinct text and additional facts that draw upon higher-level thinking.
The endpapers helpfully introduce some of the species that will be discussed in the book and are detailed enough to spend much time on themselves. The wraparound cover features a picture of a hot air balloon, which comes up later in the book as the girl is traveling and exploring. This also previews how many species are on Earth and introduces the fact that species are continuing to be discovered.
The book teaches about organisms big and small and emphasizes that even though something cannot be seen, it can still be a living thing. This page shows an example of the main text, which is large, and then small italicized text, which includes supplemental facts. These facts involve higher level concepts and therefore might be more helpful when teaching to older students. They also include field specific and academic vocabulary. Things like microbes can seem kind of boring when taught, but the use of bright colors, fun shapes, and an interested character helps to make this subject engaging and cool!
The page above shows the strategic detail of the illustrations in a sort of spot-the-difference type spread. This page explains that though species may look alike, they might not be the same, and though creatures may appear different, they might actually be the same! This is a difficult concept to explain and grasp, and this page does a beautiful job of illustrating this strange phenomenon.
This page discusses many crazy creatures, and some of them have their scientific name included. There are some familiar creatures and some creatures that are strange and foreign. The creatures come from all different habitats, and the texts reiterates that new species continue to be discovered.
This page includes clear, colorful diagrams explaining different aspects of creatures’ livelihoods and habitats. The first pictures are a good introduction to the concept of a food chain, another way this book could be helpful as an introduction or as a supplement within the classroom.
Finally, this book covers the devastating topics of overfishing, deforestation, and overall anthropogenic abuse of our planet and all of its living things. This topic is not often addressed very early in school, but this book allows for the conversation to begin by showing readers the realities of human impact on the world. A follow up discussion could include ways to protect species and our planet.
Overall, this book is chock full of interesting and necessary information about the world around us. It can be easily used as a helpful teaching tool in science, but it’s many illustrations make it fun to read recreationally as well. It is sometimes difficult to get children interested in science topics like this book covers, and this book employs successful methods of detailed, bright illustrations, concise text, and separated additional facts to engage readers.