Review By CAROLYN M. MULLIN
Frequent Vegbooks readers may have picked up on my scorn of some alternative energy nonfiction that clearly omits any mention of solar energy. The cosmos aligned and sent me a copy of The Kids’ Solar Energy Book, which is a humorous means of investigating active systems, passive solar, and the conversion of sunlight into electricity through a classroom setting. The information presented within is very much a la Charlie Brown, whereby we can’t see the teacher, but we can hear her. Students are drawn in a 1970’s style (the book was originally published in 1982 and rereleased in 2009) and help to elaborate on their lessons and make many a joke.
Illustrator Malcom Wells does a fantastic job incorporating the laugh-out-loud absurd in his cartoons: cats, dinosaurs and giant ants sitting at desks, kids in random costume and engaging in off-topic behavior (knitting, brewing coffee, and doing hand stands). However, it takes nearly 90 pages to convey the basics of solar energy – a bit lengthy I think, especially when the pages are set up in the same manner and look virtually identical (the entire book is done in a green/white two-tone color scale). Overall, this text is an unusual take on solar energy, but one that kids will enjoy. It may just take a few sessions to get through.