Space, by Carole Stott, and The Human Body, by Richard Walker, are two of the four books in DK's new One Million Things series.
These books are just as fact-filled as one expects from a DK book, with all the bright pictures illustrating said facts that DK does so well. However, with this series, DK has gotten more than somewhat quirky design-wise. The pictures illustrating the facts do not float in the empty space of the page--rather, they are contained within images and contexts from the everyday world. The gas giants in Space, for instance, become hot air balloons. Body languague, in The Human Body, is illustrated by a bunch of ordinary folks in a movie theater, not the isolated examples of happy, sad, cross that one commonly sees, and rather cleverly, blood circulation is shown as a banner advertizement in a subway station, and the heart is the engine of a car with its hood up. And really cool are the "Defenders" --the infection fighters of the body. They are shown as trading cards.
The result is, I think, a series of books that rather perfect for the reader who thinks best with visual metaphors, although I think their appeal is more univeral then that. The pictures that don't work as well are easy to ignore; the ones that do cleverly reinforce the facts presented. And, speaking from personal experience, this approach to illustration adds an extra layer of puzzle solving for the reader and the child being read to. Me, in all sincerity: Why is there a football on this page (p. 121 of Space) about rockets? Seven year old: it's a kid's room and the rockets are toys too! Me: duh. (followed by musing about whether rockets should be lumped with toys...and what that might say about our society etc etc.) Seven year old: It's just a picture.
Although Space is a bit more metaphorically random than The Human Body, both are fun additions to one's non-fiction library--they are much more interesting that most non-fiction encyclopedia type books around.
The Non-Fiction Monday round-up is at Moms Inspire Learning today!