Book Review: The Power of the Earth

Power of the Earth Chinese encyclopedia for children

The Science of The Power of the Earth 地球的力量科学绘本 is a book set for children who are nature lovers, geographers and mathematicians.  The set contains ten beautifully written books published in Simplified Chinese which will put a child in awe about the wonders of this world.  We read hundreds of books each year, and I just love it when we come across literary gems – this is certainly one.

Key Information on Power of the Earth series

  • Author/Illustrator:  加古里子 Satoshi Kako 
  • Number of books in set:  10
  • Number of lines per page:   2 – 5
  • Number of pages per book: 25
  • Total length of the book:  ~2300 characters
  • Characters required by child to read it independently: ~1200
  • Pinyin: no
  • Bilingual: no
  • Available in Singapore NLB: no
  • Recommended ages: 5 – 10 years
  • Original language of publication: Japanese
  • Audio available: Yes – through Luka Reading Robot

What the Power of the Earth books are about

This is a non-fiction book set for children, meticulously illustrated and researched, about various natural phenomena of the world (like rivers, rainbows, earthquakes, sunrises, etc).  It’s not an encyclopedia – it’s really short story books, which poses rhetorical questions and gives plenty of facts about each subject, and food for thought.   Questions like how much salt is there in the sea?  How did mountains form in the ocean? Wy does the sun set colour differ on some days? And what are the names of different cloud shapes?

We really love books translated from Japanese in our house – there’s something about the pictures and the stories which are always so unique and endearing, generally with valuable lessons subtly contained. The author of this set. Satoshi Kako, is indeed a master storyteller (and has written many other wonderful books, including another favourite of ours called Mr Crow’s Bakery, which he wrote at the impressive age of 87 years old).   He’s an amazing man, and author.  Kako has a brilliant mind for making important concepts (like economic theory or geography)  enthralling for kids, and is an equally talented illustrator.  He originally worked as a chemist and chemical engineer, before turning to writing books to share his scientific passions with the next generation. 

What my daughter likes about it:

  • The clever illustrations – in particular will appeal to a child who enjoys numbers, math and geography.
  • The questions it asks and answers – a child will feel like they’ve really learnt something they wanted to know
  • The text isn’t too overwhelming – yes this is non-fiction book, but it’s quite short concepts and easy to digest.

For a child, the books try to illustrate principles or ratios using objects and situations they would be familiar with, such as squashing a mattress against a wall to create a mountain, or the relative size of a watermelon and its seeds.

Power of the Earth Book series - Mountains
How mountains are formed
Power of the Earth Book series - Rain
How rain drops are formed

What a parent or teacher would like about the set:

  • Very solid scientific fact and reasoning – in a matter-of-fact and down-to-earth manner, which probably gives answers to questions your kids have asked you before and you tried unsuccessfully to google for!
  • Words used are actually readable for a younger reader – the characters and choice of words are carefully chosen.  You’ll be surprised how much your child can recognize and read on their own.  The books is written in a way that a P2/P3 could self read, and a younger child would also understand.
  • Font size – the typesetting is a good size and clear, and works will with the Alpha Egg pen or Youdao Chinese dictionary pen if needed.
  • Encourages creativity – and appeals to my engineering brain with many of the concepts and corresponding illustrations

If you haven’t read anything from Satoshi Kako, you’re really missing out on a talented picture book writer.  I highly recommend you check out this talented guy.  He was born in 1926, survived through WW2, then graduated from the University of Tokyo with a major in applied chemistry and a doctorate in engineering. While working in chemical companies, he created fairy tales and puppet plays to explain his work to children.  He was a pioneer of science books for children in Japan, and won numerous awards.  The Power of the Earth books were translated from Japanese into Chinese by Guo Yu, a Chinese paleontologist and geosciences scholar.

Kako passed away at the age of 92, and The Power of the Earth series is the last set of books which he oversaw for translation into Chinese before passing away.  His hope was for children to understand and love the earth.

Insides of the book

It was hard to pick which photo to include here – there are SO many stunning pages. Here are just a few.

Power of the Earth Book series - volcanoes
The books remind me of Science Sketch Note type of series
Power of the Earth Book series - space
SO many fun facts about the universe!
Power of the Earth Book series - volcanoes
Power of the Earth Book series - core
Simple and memorable drawings

Titles in 地球的力量科学绘本 Power of the Earth Series

  • 《高山》Tall Mountains
  • 《河流》Rivers
  • 《大海》Seas and Oceans
  • 《雨 雪 雾 云朵》Rain, Snow, Fog, Clouds
  • 《风》Wind
  • 《地震》Earthquake
  • 《火山》Volcano
  • 《朝霞 晚霞 彩虹 极光》Sunrise, Sunset, Rainbow, Aurora
  • 《世界各地》All Around the World
  • 《地球》Earth 

Where to find the series

Our set was bought several years back from My Story Treasury in Singapore.  I checked, and they still sell it.  It’s also selling on JD and Taobao.

 Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it in the local library (although NLB do have several other books by this same author/illustrator).

What level is 地球的力量科学绘本 for?

The Power of the Earth would work for a curious and nature-loving child above 4 to be read by a parent, and even for a non-Chinese speaking family to be narrated as it has full audio recording through Luka.  For a child to read the series independently, I feel about it’s about P2 equivalent in the Singapore school system.

If my child likes this series, what are other similar books in Simplified Chinese?

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