The Tsunami Book- Killer Waves was written by Dr Gill Jolly, illustrated by Guy Holt design and published by black dog books in 2009. From the moment I picked the book up, I was engrossed. It started with the front cover - an amazing photograph of a tsunami wave about to engulf a town (Yes, it has been digitally altered, but what an attention-grabber!) A quick skim revealed more photographs obviously carefully chosen to be visually stunning, and intriguing snippets of text. Finally I disciplined myself to quit skimming and start reading.
Lots of kids love non-fiction. And some of those kids don't want to start at the start and go straight on until morning. The great thing is that both those kids and the more linear kind will enjoy this book. There are text boxes, graphics and captions to appeal to the dippers, and solid but intriguing and more traditional text to appeal to the others. The text is simply and engagingly written. I really loved the way Dr Jolly shows us the human and quirky results of tsunamis as well as the scientific causes and explanations.
One of the many things that works well in The Tsunami Book is the lay-out. In some children's non-fiction books, the pages are so busy, they are daunting for kids. In this one, there is an excellent balance of pictures and text, and enough white space for the pages to feel uncluttered. I very much like the way design choices both underpin the text and add to it eg vertical titles for some sections, horizontal titles for others, different fonts to enhance clarity. There's a wonderfully simple and clear wave graphic which helps kids understand different heights that waves reached, and allows them to compare tsunamis at a glance.
This book would make an excellent choice for anyone wanting children to learn about visual literacy. There are diagrams, different kinds of images, maps, copies of paintings and signs to investigate. It would make a stunning reference book for a school or local library, being comprehensive enough to satisfy kids who want to know about tsunamis, but also not overwhelming kids with too much detail. If you have a child who isn't really into fiction, this might be a great one to share in a family read-aloud, and perhaps start him off on the road to still more research. Or check out some of the other titles from black dog books Wild Planet series.
As for me, I'm off to explore one of the links Dr Jolly provided on the Glossary/Index page. Just checking to see if a killer wave might be coming to a beach near me!