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Future Energy series: Solar Power; Fossil Fuels; Geothermal Energy and Bio-energy; Water Power; Nuclear Power; Wind Power

Author: Julie Richards
Published by: Macmillan Library
ISBN: (Example) 978-1-4202-6848-5 (Nuclear Power)
Reviewed by Fiona de Villiers

It’s clear that Macmillan Library’s five-book series on different forms of power, hailing from Australia, is aimed at older children in the Foundation phase and those in the Intermediate phase. But, as with most educational texts from this publisher, there’s not a child – or teacher – in the school who wouldn’t benefit from reading them.

Topical subject matter

Discussions on where we draw our power from are key in today’s environmentally conscious age. The bottom line is that we have to move away from fossil fuels to utilising clean, renewable and sustainable forms of energy as our planet becomes more populated. Author Julie Richards supplies several options: solar power, nuclear power, geothermal energy and bio-energy, water power and wind power.

The fifth book is a comprehensive look (for this learning phase) at fossil fuels, the planet’s major current power source. The subject matter of this series is, of course, extremely serious, and could be off-putting to younger students, but Richards and Macmillan have hit upon a winning style – succinct and clearly headed chunks of text that drive key messages home, framed by compelling colour photography and accurate diagrams.

Sprinkled in for good measure are extra facts.

Series could be used to ‘fuel’ more discussion

Were I to use these books in class, it would be as a supplementary guide to teaching younger learners how to research thoroughly. Richards’ topics – moving as they do in each case from the origins of each form of power, to its uses throughout history and its potential and current usage – could provide useful guides to preparing meaningful multimedia presentations.

Her glossaries could act as a jumping-off point for further research and discussion into topics like, say, fracking – much in the news at the moment. For me, the real ‘meat’ of this subject area is the pros and cons of each potential power source. Any search on Google will reveal robust discussions between scientists, students and ordinary folk
alike about, say, wind power. The real potential villain is, of course, nuclear power, and I was hoping that Richards would give over more coverage to this in
the relevant book.

Still, any teacher worth his or her salt will use the given preliminary notes to move onto discussions about the China syndrome or Japan’s current nuclear challenges. All in all, this is an apposite series, well documented, superbly illustrated and well worth purchasing for the school library.

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Category: Winter 2011

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