Book Reviews

Below are some of our reviews of weather and climate books aimed at children and young people.

  • Weather in 30s
    Author: Dr. Jen Green consultant Prof Adam Scaife
    Year: 2015
    Publisher: Ivy Kids
    Suggested age range: KS2/3 (7-14)
    Price: £9.99

    weather in 30s

    A lovely short book, with short, accurate explanations eg, ideas for simple experiments eg and calculations to demonstrate atmospheric processes and helpful illustrations. It was a great idea to put a glossary at the start of each section.

    The book is divided into 6 sections: Earth’s weather, climate and seasons, all kinds of weather, extreme weather, predicting the weather and climate change. I have slight reservations about some of the statements in the climate change section, but would otherwise definitely recommend this book.

    This book could easily be used by KS3 geography teachers in the classroom.

    Some comments from students at the lower end of the recommended age range:

    Annabel and Grace: “I really like this book because it is really colourful and creative. The illustrations are very good and quite funny. The best book ever!

    Sophie and Pippa: “In this book you will learn everything from earth’s weather and predicting the weather to climate change. The book looks very interesting because every page is a different colour. There are lots of interesting facts in this book and I don’t know which of them is my favourite so I am going to choose all of them.”

    A review by Hannah, at the upper end of the recommended range:

    ‘Weather in 30s’ is exactly what its title suggests – a concise collection of weather related topics explained fully and clearly in this interesting, educational volume. The summaries at the end of each page help the reader quickly understand the topic on the page, and the 3 minute missions at the ends of some of the pages help you to understand further the science of it, in a fun way. There is a glossary at the start of each chapter which gives a simple, clear explanation of some of the harder words. Also, the fantastic illustrations contribute to the text, helping to give a clear picture. The actual worded content is also great- it is easy to understand and concise. The book successfully taught me about the covered topics; I understood them well. I’d definitely recommend it!

  • How the Weather Works
    Author: Christiane Dorion and Beverley Young
    Year: 2011
    Publisher: Templar
    Suggested age range: KS2/3 (7-14)
    Price: £12.99

    how the weather works
    If you are interested in the weather or have a question about the wind, rain or clouds then this book is for you. How the weather works is a hands-on book with flaps to open, tabs to pull, wheels to turn, and a giant pop-up of a hurricane. It is packed with illustrations along with interesting facts and is packed full of information. There some experiments to try out yourself and things to make so you can take your own weather observations. You could read this book from front to back or find out one or two facts. Younger children aged 5-7 may enjoy the pop-ups and interactive pictures but to get the most from this book I suggest the reader needs to be 9-11 years old. I really enjoyed it. By Amber Bentley (Aged 11)
    In just 16 pages, this wonderful book covers the structure of the atmosphere, solar radiation, the water cycle, clouds, fronts, convection, air pressure, air masses, the global atmospheric circulation, making weather observations, forecasting, synoptic charts, hurricanes, regional climate, palaeoclimates and anthropogenic climate change. With so much information in a very small space, it avoids being dry by using a huge variety of presentation styles, including many diagrams, pop-up models, tabs to pull and wheels to turn. The book covers concepts and uses vocabulary that would usually only be introduced in science and geography lessons at secondary school, but the style makes it accessible to much younger children.
    However, my main recommendation about this book is that, unlike some other books aimed at a similar age range, I can’t find a single mistake or oversimplification in it. My one concern is about how long it would last, if small children or a lot of children were using it. The book’s companion, “How the World Works”, won the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize in 2011.

  • National Geographic Kids: Everything Weather
    Author: Kathy Furgang with Tim Samaras
    Year: 2012
    Publisher: National Geographic
    Suggested age range: KS2 (7-11)
    Price: US $12.95

    Everything Weather

    The authors of this book won a prize from the American Meteorological Society in 2014. The endorsement read “an engaging, informative, beautifully photographed and cleverly illustrated guide to the science, practices and wonders of weather”. The book does have a North American focus, which is particularly evident in the examples chosen and the fact that mid-latitude weather systems are entirely omitted. In some cases, this is misleading – for example Americans use the word sleet in a different way to the English. However, most quantities are also given in SI units. The range of topics includes: the Sun, air pressure, clouds, water cycle, extreme weather (including tornadoes), forecasting and making weather measurements. My general impression of the book is that it looks very nice, is an easy read and is big on WOW factors, but is a little bit light on content. The title ‘everything weather’ is exaggerated!

  • Elmer’s Weather
    Author David McKee
    Year: 1994
    Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd.
    Suggested age range: pre-school – KS1
    Price: £4.99 (hardcover)

    elmers weather
    A nice picture book for young children, introducing some weather words to stimulate discussion of different weather conditions.

    Other good books for pre-school and KS1 children include Mrs. Mopples Washing Line and The Wind Blew, both of which are currently out of print although second hand copies can be found.

  • Weather or not … it’s a climate for change
    Author: Caren Trafford & David Wilsher
    Year: 2007
    Publisher: etram
    Suggested age range: 9-14
    Price: £6.99

    climate 4 change
    This wonderfully colourful, fun book contains some detailed and accurate meteorology and links well to key stage 3 science and geography. The cartoon style helps the book appeal to younger or less able students, and gives teachers a useful tool for reintroducing topics to older students in a humerous way.

    The topics covered include understanding the atmosphere, what makes the weather?, weather history, cloud seeding, weather terms, greenhouse gases explained, climate change, and then renewable energy sources.

    The book is part of the Australian ‘Environmental Education …Serious Fun’ series which includes ‘Pow! Meet the Renewables’, ‘World-wide waste’. ‘A worm’s eye view – The history of the world’, ‘Water.. the amazing journey’ and ‘Where does the poo go’.

  • Stormy Weather – Horrible Geography
    Author: Anita Ganeri
    Year: 2008
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Suggested age range: KS2/3 (7-14)
    Price: £5.99

    stormy weatehr

    Wow. This is quite some book. Though Anita Ganeri has written the entire “Horrible Geography” series herself (a spin-off the of the now-adapted-for-TV “Horrible Histories” books), she hasn’t skimped on the facts – I honestly thought she was a meteorologist as I read it. This fun and lively book told me a lot of things I didn’t already know; it’s engaging, accurate and interesting, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

    There is no age-range specifically mentioned anywhere in the book, but a bit of internet research threw up the ages 9-12 yrs old. I think this is a fair enough starting age. The level of assumed knowledge is sometimes high – for example it’s assumed that you know what positive and negative charges are when the formation of lightening in a cloud is explained. The upper age range, however, I would firmly stick at infinity. There are lots of fascinating facts and figures about a whole host of weather-related things with something new in there for everybody; for instance, did you know that ‘brontophobia’ is the name for a fear of thunder?

    As the name suggests this book is focussed on the horrible parts of weather. There is a bit of general atmospheric physics at the beginning of the book and a (great) guide to becoming a meteorologist at the end, but these are bookends to the meat of the book which is reserved for thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes. In my opinion this is no bad thing – sure, sea breezes, radiation fog and icicle formation don’t get a look in, but this is more than made up for by the careful time spent on each of the three terrifying weather types. This focus allows Ganeri to go into real detail about formation and all the associated other pieces of information like the names of clouds and the shape of raindrops as well as lots of lighter-hearted asides to draw you (and your children) in.

    The lighter asides are easily as important and informative as the hard-core meteorology facts. There are real-life stories of people caught up in the terrible types of weather, what they did, what they saw and how they felt. Similarly there are accounts of historical figures ranging from Aristotle to Gustav Coriolis and vivid descriptions of their inventions and discoveries. For example Ganeri describes how Gabriel Farenheight’s parents died when he was 15 after eating dodgy mushrooms and that this ultimately led to the Farenheight scale of temperature. There are also little quizzes dotted throughout the book, with the answers upside down just below, so you can really stop to puzzle them out and satisfyingly find out if you were right with the minimum fuss. And finally, there are “how to” guides which guide you in everything from making a cup anemometer to staying safe during a thunderstorm.

    And all of this informative entertainment is delivered in a wonderfully casual conversational style. There is a drawback to this approach, however, which is that “atmospheric physicists” are grouped as “meteorologists” (fair enough), who are then further grouped as “geographers”. This is fine in itself, the book is sold as a geography book after all, but I did wonder if it might be sending the wrong message about meteorology and that budding young meteorologists may be disappointed to find that they haven’t paid enough attention to their physics lessons. To be fair though, in Ganeri’s section on “Could you be a Meteorologist?” she does specify that you need to be a “maths megabrain”, which I guess for 9-12 year olds is much the same as being a “physics phenomenon”. But I digress – the language is excellent, it makes tough subjects without talking down to you at all; and the amazing alliteration is a handy hook which is universally used throughout.

    Not only is the language great but Mike Phillips’ illustrations are brilliant. They are informative, accurate and often very funny. In many places they take the place of the printed text – especially when things are explained by “Mona the Meteorologist” and her ever-changing jumpers – which is great way of breaking things up and keeping the book fresh. Personally, I would have made more of showing the water cycle, but the illustration detailing the levels of the atmosphere was the best I’ve ever seen and more than makes up for not explaining the importance of groundwater flow.

    I can’t honestly complain about this book, it’s too good. In a redoubled effort to stop gushing and say something negative, I thought the end was flat. I was pleased that climate change/global warming was spelled out unashamedly in terms of human contributions to CO2, but there was a strange interjection about El Nino (which dates the book a little) and the ending concludes with the limp message that no-one can agree about climate change, but weather can be horrible. Though honestly, it’s barely a complaint – the other 150 pages are all brilliant.

    Please go and buy this book. If not for your own children (who might prefer an iPad or something), then for your nieces, nephews and next door neighbours’ kids. Go and buy them this book – read it yourself first – and then give it to them at Christmas or non-specific gift-giving period of your choice. When you next see them you’ll be able to challenge them to name a cloud or set them off to playing “we’re all about to be hit by a hurricane” in the garden. It may not technically be geography, but it’s educational and it’s fun – what more could you want?

  • DK Eyewitness Companions – Weather
    Year: 2008
    Publisher: Dorling Kindersley
    Suggested age range: KS4 – adult
    Price: £12.99 (hardcover)

    dorling kindersleyThis series, published by Dorling Kindersley, contains various titles designed for the interested and intelligent layman. The books are larger than pocket-size but would be convenient for slipping into a briefcase.

    This title was produced in association with the Met Office and is organised as a series of short articles covering six main themes, starting with the History of Weather and concluding with Climate Change. There is a variety of related topics in each theme, generally occupying two pages and the whole book is lavishly illustrated. The illustrations are relevant to the topics being discussed and these encompass a wide range of subjects covering many aspects of meteorology, each treated in an easily understood way.

    The book starts with an introduction and ends with a glossary of meteorological terms, a list of weather-related web sites and an index. The glossary is particularly useful for the layman, though there are one or two omissions. The organization of the book encourages dipping in and out rather than reading from cover to cover. Each page is packed with a lot of interesting facts, a few of which may be new to most meteorologists. I didn’t realise, for example, that Tlaloc was the Aztec god of rain and thunder! The density of information, along with several illustrations, necessitated a rather small, though fortunately clear, typeface.

    The meteorology was generally sound, though a little simplistic at times. For example, there was no mention of the ice phase in the development of large, precipitating clouds or of the need for condensation nuclei. Also, I couldn’t understand why frontal depressions appeared on p126 under Weather Phenomena rather than with Weather Fronts and Highs and Lows under How the Weather Works. There were a few questionable definitions, but taken over all, this is a very attractive and informative book, with a very reasonable price tag of £12.99, that I would heartily recommend for the enthusiastic amateur.

  • Guide to Weather
    Author: Ross Reynolds
    Year: 2006
    Publisher: Philips
    Suggested age range: KS4 – adult
    Price: £ currently out of print

    philips guide to the weather
    This book claims to be “A new practical guide to observing, measuring and understanding the weather”. It indeed covers a wide range of aspects of meteorology, presented from a global perspective. Its major strength lies in the presentation of titbits of information, supported on almost every page by simple colour pictures or explanatory diagrams. However, each chapter builds into a fairly comprehensive, non-mathematical and informative guide.

    The nine chapters deal with issues ranging from the global atmosphere and climate to observing, mapping and forecasting weather, as well as chapters on “Explaining the weather”, majoring on moist processes and “Hazardous weather”, focusing primarily on hurricanes. Two interesting chapters conclude the book. “Holiday weather around the world” will be of particular use to the traveller, although this chapter could also be seen as a very acceptable way of repackaging the basics of world climates.

    The final chapter, “Environmental issues”, explains clearly not only El Niño, but also ENSO and La Niña – topics often ignored or confused when reported in the Press.

    Generally, the book maintains an excellent balance between simplicity and an appropriate level of science for the layman, secondary school student, or prospective undergraduate in meteorology. Criticisms are minor, but for the British market there is a lack of clear explanation as to why fronts, depressions and anticyclones really exist. For example, on p.20 the explanation of the cause of depressions, “These travelling lows are nature’s way of responding to the atmosphere’s demand to be cooler in low latitudes and warmer in high latitudes”, is weak, and fails to suggest to the reader why, for example, the Burns Day Storm (see Chapter 7) was so intense. A surprising amount of space is given to describing the plotting of surface charts (Chapter 3). “Forecasting the weather (Chapter 6) is well presented as far as it goes, highlighting both short- and long-term forecast prediction. It is a pity, though, that key aspects of local weather, such as sea-breezes, are omitted.

    This is a splendid, glossy, little pocketbook, of 192 pages, packed, yet not overcrowded, with information. It should go far in informing the general public about the fascinating subject of weather, both encouraging the budding amateur and inspiring more people to study meteorology. The title perfectly describes this up-to-date beautifully laid out, attractive book.

    Review comments from some of our work experience students:
    “Some great case study material near the back of the book for places around the world. A great read.”

    “This book encourages people who are in interested in weather to learn some more facts about weather. Across the whole book there are fantastic labels and features which attract the viewer. It explains weather processes in detail and is a very interesting book. The pages however can be seen to be very plain and boring with no enthusiasm. I’ll give it an 8/10.”

  • Teach Yourself Weather
    Author: Peter Inness
    Year: 2008
    Publisher: Teach Yourself
    Suggested age range: KS4 – adult
    Price: £9.99

    teach yourself weather

    This is a great book which covers a wide range of weather at an introductory level. It is very well written and is easy to read – certainly an interesting and easily digestible book. I would reccommend this book to read if you are looking for an overall introduction to the weather, or even to remind yourself about things you learnt a long time ago and have since forgotten!

  • Usborne Beginners – Weather
    Author: Catriona Clarke
    Year: 2006
    Publisher: Usborne
    Suggested age range: KS1 (5-7)
    Price: £3.99

    Weather

    Review 1

    Throughout this book, there are consistently relevant and interesting pictures, which may keep children engaged and fascinated by the topic, as often these are photographs of weather phenomena to go with an explanation, and as young readers, it is important that a book is fairly visual, in order for it to keep their attention.
    Any writing is in a fairly big font, with the pages having quite simple layouts, so as to keep it as simple and as easy to follow as possible.
    Introduces each topic well, with the basics, which is then followed by short sentences on the matter, with all necessary information suitable for the target audience. As said, each page is full of pictures, and simple diagrams, so that the reader can grasp an idea of the topic fairly easily. The diagrams are very realistic, with unnecessary features, such as detailed countryside beneath the cloud, however this helps the reader to visualise this in real life, and possibly apply it to the real outdoors.
    There is also the odd ‘quirky’ fact in a box on some pages, accompanied by a fairly humorous illustration, which makes the book more fun and appealing to children, whilst short, broken up pieces of information make it easier to remember.
    The book covers the main occurrences within weather, such as lightning and tornadoes, as well as the water cycle, a bit about meteorologists, how the weather affects animals, and strange events in weather.
    The book ends by informing the reader about global warming, which is currently a very important issue, therefore it’s vital that the next generation are aware of it, and this book introduces the idea basically, without being too complex, yet it would make an impression on the reader.
    The book includes a simple glossary, making it a good book for children who want to do independent learning on weather, and also a list of fun, useful websites to visit.

    SUMMARY: An informative, yet fun and interesting book, ideal for young readers wanting an introduction to the weather.

    Review 2

    When I was young I had a copy of the Usborne Junior Encyclopaedia, which I loved to read in bed almost as soon as I’d learnt to read. I attribute some part of my subsequent scientific path through education and later through work to this covert night time reading. So, as another Usborne book, I was hoping for great things from “Weather” by Catriona Clarke – and on the whole I wasn’t too disappointed.

    “Weather” is certainly set out to be an eye-catcher. There are bright colour photographs on each page which, coupled with the effective detailed pictures of Kuo Kang Chen, illustrate a multitude of weather-related facts. One of the most effective of these is the illustration of the water cycle – from evaporation over the ocean to precipitation over distant mountain tops – this keystone of weather is laid out in easy and approachable detail. Another illustrative gem is the formation of thunderstorms, where the electric charge is shown to be formed by rain, snow and hailstones whizzing around inside the huge cloud. And these are but the cream of a crop of bright and inspiring pictures, each one underpinned by a sound meteorological concept and many, such as the Golden Gate Bridge shrouded in fog, encourage the young reader to consider something that they may have seen before in a different light.

    Sadly, the broad scope of the beautiful pictures does, if you’ll pardon the pun, illustrate my greatest criticism of this lovely little book: it feels bloated and sadly superficial. Almost as though Catriona Clarke was given two weeks to learn about meteorology for a young audience and dived into the nearest A-level textbook, before hastily constructing a simplified version of what she found there. There is an awful lot crammed in with little logical progression from one topic to the next and a lack of detail throughout. The most topical example is the final page on climate change which is so brief that it’s almost an apology, alone at the end of the book with barely any substance. In my opinion, the worst case of a lost opportunity to inspire comes from the page on snowflakes. Here a corner of the pages devoted to these elaborate white crystals, which have inspired poets, painters and snowball makers alike, are rudely shoved aside to make room for a lacklustre explanation of icicles formed by melting snow on rooftops illustrated complete with grey tiles, brown brickwork and an aptly confused-looking bird.

    As a result of being rushed, many of those areas of meteorology which would be useful for children on a day-to-day basis are so simplified that they are lost. For example, the treatment of clouds is criminally short – it would be vastly improved by a more detailed guide to naming clouds to accompany their associated weather conditions. Another such weak spot is the truncation of Beaufort’s wind scale, where giving the whole scale would equip a child with the right information to look at a windy day and work out, in the big scheme of things, just how windy it really is. It’s a shame that these simple little practical things, which would enthuse the budding meteorologist and encourage them to look up at the sky, are not fully included.

    By being broad, however, the book does facilitate the weaving in of neat and unexpected holistic facts and observations that are a step removed from the day to day components of the weather. For example the first page neatly surmises that “The weather is caused by three main things: heat, water and air.” a tidy and insightful observation which gives an external perspective to meteorology. There is also a cross-disciplinary element and one particular highlight of the book for me is the inclusion of the effects of seasonal weather changes on animals, such as winter hares and hibernating mice, which make a refreshing change from the mostly physical-mechanical subject matter of the book.

    And on the flip-side of the coin, where fascinating detail and practical application are scarce in “Weather”, awesome processes, thrilling effects and funny facts are abundant. The meteorological big guns – tornadoes, thunderstorms, hurricanes and giant hailstones – are all in here along with the sound science behind the sensation. These veteran heavyweights of popular meteorology are accompanied by riveting pages devoted to the stranger side of weather, such as dust-filled rain and frog-filled tornadoes, and to the extreme weather conditions of the deserts and poles which humans have yet to tame. Furthermore, to counterbalance these impressive and sometimes scary facts, there are also funny asides on almost every page containing odd little snippets about the weather and which are effectively designed to stick in the mind. My favourite, without a doubt, is the aside about a giant hailstone which fell over the US, and contained a turtle.

    Though it may not entirely scratch up to my very high expectations of the Usborne series, this book nevertheless provides a bright, funny and spectacular introduction to Meteorology. The inspired young enthusiast will have to look elsewhere for detailed or more meaningful information – but they will, at least, have been inspired in the first place.

  • Weather and Climate Change
    Author: Laura Howell
    Year: 2007
    Publisher: Usborne
    Suggested age range: KS3-4 (11-16)
    Price: £9.99

    weather

    This book is aimed at key stages 3/4 and seeks to introduce weather and climate change in a colourful and easy to read format.

    The book begins by explaining the difference between weather and climate, an important starting point in order for the subject to be understood. It continues by exploring some of the basics of weather such as the atmosphere, sun, clouds and air masses etc and uses the explanation of these elements in order to describe how the climate is changing. The discussion of climate change provides a detailed picture of the various factors that lead to a change in climate and hence does not show any bias towards any one particular theory. It promotes the commonly held theory of human intervention but also explains that there have been periods in history where there has been natural climate change and also discusses the sceptical view of the issue.

    The book concludes by providing the reader with some weather trivia and allowing them to cement their knowledge by completing a multiple choice quiz.

    The target audience should find the book to be a most enjoyable and informative read. It has excellent internet links which enable the reader to download diagrams, learn more on a particular topic and visit over 100 related websites. It is filled with simple experiments such as how to see sunspots and how to create a rainbow, and demonstrates how easy it is to use items from around the house to explain scientific theories. The pages are filled with diagrams which are attractive and detailed yet clear and make each subject eg the structure of the atmosphere, accessible to the reader.

    Where the book falters however, is in its accuracy of certain elements of the science. Explaining gravity as ‘a force that attracts objects to each other’ is bad wording at best. Furthermore, the treatment of basic principles such as evaporation/condensation is extremely vague. Statements are made such as ‘tiny water drops rise to form clouds’ without providing any explanation of why the water is rising or why it forms a cloud. I believe the target audience would be capable of understanding such principles and consequently the book suffers from the omission.

    In summary, this book would definitely encourage children to delve further into the world of weather and climate. It makes the subject matter both fun and entertaining, however, some work is needed on improving the accuracy of the detail and the explanations of integral processes.

  • 100 Facts on Weather/ 100 Things You Should Know About Weather
    Author: Claire Oliver
    Year: 2008
    Publisher: Miles Kelly
    Suggested age range: KS2 (7-11)
    Price: £4.99/£5.99

    100 facts

    A brilliant book. Ideal for KS2 (junior) pupils, dare I say especially for boys, who tend to appreciate action books. In spite of so much information being readily available electronically, this thin eye-catching book invites effortless exploration along its easy to follow pathway from 1-100. Pictures dominate but the words are often effectively merged with them and it is the language that impressed me. Most pages contain two or three facts, many limited to around 50 words. Rarely have I seen such carefully written sentences presenting complex concepts so clearly. The journey stars by answering “What is Weather” and moves on through weather’s many facets aided by cameos of amazing “I don’t believe it” facts, short four question quizzes, and journalistic titles such as “Wild Whirling Winds” and “What a Scorcher” – effortless learning at its best! The only criticism I have was of the use of a jam jar as a rain gauge with the suggestion of emptying it each week. In summer evaporation would have taken most of the rain away. The standard plastic bottle with its top inverted to make a narrow funnel seems more efficient. No doubt serious meteorologists might find other errors but as an entry level book for interesting and inspiring children to the world of weather it would be hard to beat.

  • Weather & Climate
    Author: John Farndon (part of the Bulletpoints series)
    Year: 2003
    Publisher: Miles Kelly Publishing
    Suggested age range: KS3, possible KS4
    Price: £3.99

    weather and climate

    Review 1

    When I first looked at this unusual book, my impression was one of confusion. It wasn’t clear to me who “Bulletpoints – Weather and Climate” was intended for and how were they supposed to use it. So, intrigued by the challenge, I donned a cheap imitation deerstalker, found a bubble pipe and a bloke who’s let me call him Watson, and the investigated the Mystery of the Bulletpoints Book.

    This book is extraordinarily particular in its format. Each page consists of ten different bulletpoints (perhaps not surprising given the name) of facts or figures about the particular meteorological topic. With this rigid style, the book is clearly not a bedtime-read weather novel; unless your child is a desperate insomniac that is, in which case the stop-start bulletpoint format will have them snoozing gently away within a matter of minutes. No, this book is designed to be dipped into and picked at rather than consumed as a whole.

    The topics described by these bulletpoints cover the usual meteorological stomping ground from “Clouds” and “Air Pollution” to “Atmosphere” and even “Cold” but, it is unusually inconsistent in its approach. Sometimes the bulletpoints are unique and independent nuggets of information, while in other cases the points merely subdivide the sentences of what would otherwise be a nice paragraph giving a good account of some meteorological p/pdiv class=”clearfix”rocesses or other. The book does neatly and succinctly cover a broad range of weather related topics and, though varied in its level of detail, gives a lot of information, some explanatory and some simply interesting. But the inconsistency of approach still left me wondering who was meant to read it – so I sleuthed on.

    My final crucial observation was that the tone of the book suggests that it is written for an older reader. The text takes centre stage over the rather lacklustre pictures and uses some fairly advanced language and terminology – breezily introducing subjects from Rossby waves and pressure gradients through to Milankovitch cycles with absolutely no diagrams and the barest minimum of text. The younger child would certainly find these advanced topics tough going.

    My first hypothesis was that maybe this was not in fact a children’s book after all, but rather a coffee table ornament, designed to entertain adult guests while you’re busy in the kitchen making that last cup of tea; so I went to the website of Miles Kelly Publishing to gather more information. After a bit of searching, however, I was surprised to find that no, this was indeed probably designed to be book for educating children. I say “probably” because the book isn’t described on the website any more and appears to have been superseded by the more glamorous “100 facts you should know about weather”, which is aimed at 4-11 year olds. However, 4-11 is way below the reading age which I would give this book.

    To keep you in suspense a little longer there are some other oddities which I think are worth mentioning before I conclude and unravel the mystery: This book is very US-centric – so probably less relevant to British students – and a little dated now. Also, on more a personal note, I definitely didn’t find the dated picture of a meteorologist on the “Weather Forecasting” page to be ‘stunning’ as promised by the back cover, more ‘tediously embarrassing’. I was also a bit surprised that Astrophysicist Piers Corbyn and his “forecasting system linked to variations in the sun’s activity” got a personal mention, but then it is only one bulletpoint, and the page on weather forecasting is pretty good.

    So finally, after taking into account all the odd details, I can take off my imitation deerstalker, start calling Watson by his real name again, and confidently say that I have found the solution to the tricky little mystery: This book would be very good as a classroom reference textbook for ‘A’ level or GCSE students to use for researching a class project. The language is adequate when aimed at older children who have been studying meteorology for some time. The facts and figures in the book cover a broad range of basic to advanced topics which would suit students with a range of abilities (though for very specialised topics e.g. for Milankovich cycles, a more detailed reference would be definitely be needed). And while the information in this book is pretty run-of-the-mill in terms of its coverage, the bulletpoint style comes into its own if you’re a time-pressed and homework-weary teenager searching for some quick information on a specific weather-related subject.

    Review 2

    This book uses relevant, useful diagrams and pictures throughout, as evidence or examples of an explanation, which aren’t exactly complex, but not simple either.
    All information on the various topics are given in bullet points, making it quite an easy book to read, however the style of writing isn’t aimed at younger readers; probably more for KS3/4 students. There aren’t long explanations or blocks of writing, and personally I feel that the bullet points and layout make it seem more like a revision guide than a reference book, also because there doesn’t seem to be many explanations, more points and definitions to memorize.
    There are also fascinating fact boxes, to keep the reader engaged, and to break up the format of bullet points.
    I wouldn’t say it’s for beginners as some of it doesn’t explain why, however generally it mentions the basics at the beginning of a topic, just as a reminder.
    The book covers a wide range of topics such as climate, the atmosphere, clouds, the general occurrences within weather (e.g. snow, wind, hurricanes, etc), forecasting the weather, and topical issues such as climate change, global warming and air pollution.

    SUMMARY: An informative reference book, which covers a wide range of topics within weather in a straight to the point manner, ideal for those wanting to extend their knowledge a bit further, or to recall certain points.

  • Understanding Global Warming
    Author: Rebecca L. Johnson
    Year: 2009
    Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
    Suggested age range: 9-12
    Price: £7.99

    global warming

    This book presents an overview of the science related to global warming and explains climate projections (what they are and how they are made), presenting observed changes in the natural world which are in line with the projections. It also looks at what is being done to mitigate climate change, and what else can be done, from a governmental scale to a more regional scale.
    The book does a good job of explaining the uncertainties in the climate projections. The material is nicely presented, with many pictures, and a good use of boxes to highlight and explain important facts. Readers should be aware that the book is written for an American audience, and is in parts US-centric, particularly in the section on ‘tackling a global problem.’ This section contains a good chronology of international efforts (which may be too detailed for younger readers) but is already out of date (written before the 2009 Copenhagen summit) and therefore may become less useful with time. The book ends with a good section on how we can mitigate global warming, including how the readers can ‘go green’.

  • Spotter’s Guide: Weather
    Author: Alastair Smith & Phillip Clarke
    Year: 2006
    Publisher: Usborne
    Suggested age range: KS3/4 (11-16)
    Price: £3.99

    spotters weather

    Very good, simple explanations of a broad range of topics and processes. The pictures, diagrams and internet links are particularly helpful. However, it does not extend to climate/ climate change, and the forecasting section is very limited, with no mention of current forecasting methods.