Reviews /

Britannica’s Encyclopedia Infographica

Authored by Valentina D’Efilippo, Andrew Pettie and Conrad Quilty-Harper
Published by What on Earth Publishing Ltd

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I grew up with encyclopedias. I remember my grandad having a range in his house when I visited. I remember my dad buying me various themed encyclopedias and being simultaneously amazed and terrified of what lurked in the inky depths of the oceans (I had nightmares about anglerfish). I remember rows upon rows of books of knowledge stacked in the school library and thinking – that’s a lot of information. How will I ever learn all of that?

The encyclopedia market has had to have a rethink in recent years, what with almost all knowledge being presented online in one form or another. Britannica All New Children’s Encyclopedia (What on Earth Books) brought about a rebrand full of visuals, colour and, of course facts. Smaller, bite-sized books such as the Factopia series (What on Earth Books) do a fantastic job at sharing factual information. And here, with Britannica’s Encyclopedia Infographica, knowledge of our world is offered as something both beautiful and unique.

At over 300 pages, this visual tour of six categories – space; land, sea and sky; living planet; animals; human body and human world – offers thousands of facts that are stunningly presented and, for some children, will provide a less taxing way of receiving factual detail. At the start of the book there is a quick but necessary guide to using infographics. While most adults will be familiar with their styles, many children will not have experienced them before, so the examples to explain colour, position, comparison, scale and much more are very welcome.

From here on it is exploration time. Each double page within the six categories is ordered, clean, uncluttered, and easily accessible. There has clearly been a great deal of thought as to how to best present some very complex ideas, from mapping constellations to looking at future energy sources. Each section ends with a ‘meet the expert’ interview with the consultant scientists (three men, and three women), which I think is a lovely way for learners to see the human side of these studies. Following this is a scavenger hunt, where readers can test their knowledge and check their answers at the back of the book.

Without doubt, this is a book that children could get lost in, discuss, learn from, explore, use forever and never get bored. From a teacher’s point of view, I have already bookmarked plenty of pages that will directly support children’s learning, but I can’t wait to see how they use it to follow their interests beyond the curriculum. As mentioned, there are six categories present, but there are so many more possibilities that could allow this to become a series that children and adults will treasure.

I remember encyclopedias. But I don’t remember seeing anything quite as visually appealing as this.

Shortlisted for the English 4-11 Picture Book Award 2024 Non-fiction 7-11 Category