Franklyn M(ansfield) Branley Harry C. Stubbs - Essay

Harry C. Stubbs

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

I like Branley's approach of describing the earth as it would be seen from another part of the universe [in A Book of the Planet Earth for You]. He contrasts what would be obvious to a distant observer with what would be obscure when one is too close—such things as the shape, the rotation, and the other motions of our planet. In the process, he does a good job of making clear how we actually did learn some of these facts.

There are some errors, mostly arithmetical, which even a young reader should be able to spot if he has been trained to read critically. On page 71, the figures given for Earth's distance from the sun suggest that there are 16 kilometers in a mile instead of 1.6; on page 78 the implication seems to be that there are only 0.16 kilometers per mile. However, on other pages, figures implying the correct ratio are provided. The inconsistency should be obvious to the careful reader; and if he cannot decide which pages to believe, he should at least be moved to check elsewhere.

Some of the statements are a bit dogmatic; I am not at all sure that "Earth is the only one of the nine planets that is teeming with life." In any case, the book should be fun for young readers. If they find the few inconsistencies, so much the better; it will help preserve them from growing up with the conviction that the written word is infallible.

Harry C. Stubbs, "Views on Science Books: 'A Book of the Planet Earth for You'," in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1976 by the Horn Book, Inc., Boston), Vol. LII, No. 2, April, 1976, p. 183.