Rocks, Minerals, and Gems

224p. glossary. index. photos. Scholastic. Jul. 2016. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780545947190.
Gr 5–8—A browser's delight but less useful for reference, this hefty album features hundreds of sharply reproduced close-up photos of geological specimens—including fossils, meteorites, China's terra-cotta army, and amber with small animals inside. The contents, arranged in no particular order within each of the three titular sections, include just over 100 entries ranging in scope from copper and coral to arrays of glittering gems in both cut and natural states. Every specimen is painstakingly labeled, and each full entry also lists descriptive comments, notes on uses in art or industry, and selected technical data, such as specific gravity, cleavage, and "crystal system." This information is presented in an unsystematic, abbreviated jumble that will be indigestible to readers who are still hazy on what a "transition metal" is and, for that matter, even the difference between a rock and a mineral. Additionally, the glossary and index are far from comprehensive. Active young rock hounds may find this volume fun to flip through, but for collection and identification purposes Ronald Bonewitz's Rocks and Minerals or any similar handbook will do better service.
VERDICT Dazzling photos, and lots of them, but not a primary purchase.

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