This book is based on a simple but interesting idea. What is the relationship between the inside and outside of objects? The outsides of objects to do with ten different subjects- Ocean, Homes, Earth and Space, Landmarks, Nature, Everyday Objects, Buildings, Fruit and Vegetables, Animals and Transport- are presented in double spreads which open out to show the insides of the same things. Each subject has a different illustrator and this brings a welcome variety of style. The intended use of a building affects its design; Lindsey Spinks shows both the outsides and insides of some buildings with different purposes including the Taj Mahal, the Colosseum and the exotic St. Basil’s Cathedral designed ‘to look like the flames of a bonfire rising to the sky’. L’Atelier Cartographik’s detailed pictures of animals, both outside and inside, draw attention to the sheer variety of living creatures on earth. I love his carefully drawn and labelled penguin drawing.
The cross sections are annotated with more than superficial information. So, for example, ‘Inside Ocean’ explains that the sword fish, while cold blooded, is able to use ‘endothermy’ to warm its brain and eyes so that it can search for prey more effectively in deep water. ‘Inside Everyday Objects’ has excellent diagrams of a piano, a camera and a toilet. The ‘Did you know?’ circle informs us that there are more than 7, 500 working parts in a piano. Younger children than those in the suggested age range above – perhaps from about age six or seven – are curious about the world they live in and this book with its huge reach of subject would enlighten them about many things of interest and importance. While the Internet has become a useful source of information to answer children’s questions and help with homework a book like this one has something different to offer – not least its tactile qualities and its offering of a sense of ownership not possible with an on-line resource. It would have a well-deserved place on a child’s book shelf at home or in the reference part of the primary school library.