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Scaling the heights;Reviews

TAKE 5 SERIES. Mountains. Seas and Oceans. Rivers and Deserts. By Jane and Steve Parker. Watts pound;9.99 each.

Colin Harris on a topographical series

Each of these books takes five contrasting features. In the case of Mountains, Everest, Kilimanjaro, Fuji, Aconcagua and Loa are used to illustrate themes from physical and human geography, such as folding, vegetation zones, and recreation. Oddly enough, given the series title, additional examples creep in from other parts of the world, such as the Rockies in Mountains and the Brahmaputra in Rivers.

Some explanations of the physical features are given - tides and currents, desert climatic conditions and, of course, oxbow lakes without which no book on rivers would be complete. All the examples are located on a world map.

The books are attractively laid out, with plenty of colour and an abundance of art work and photographs. They clearly illustrate the immense variety and richness of the earth's physical features. While some of the pictures are small, there are enough of them to set alongside interesting text to provide a fascinating collection. Black smokers (the gases which rise from black smoking vents in the ocean floor) and Hawaiian silverswords (a mountain plant with rapier-like leaves) are among the more unexpected features to be found in these pages.

Each title has a glossary, fact file and index, encouraging investigative and library skills. They would fit neatly on topic shelves and offer obvious scope for the literacy hour.

Colin Harris is an independent inspector and consultant

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