In recent years environmental scientists have focused on the co-called Critical Zone, where landscapes are treated as integrated systems that encompass bedrock, soils, water and sky and are teeming with life. The concept is intriguing to young minds, exploring the natural world in an integrated way that has not been imparted often in children’s literature. This book discusses how rocks become soil, movers of the Critical Zone such as gophers and other burrowers, how plants provide food and habitats for insects, birds, and animals, how the water cycle functions, the process of photosynthesis, and how humans are part of this vast system. In sum, it explains how all of life can be found in a thin outer layer called the critical zone.
Lead author and illustrator Eric Parrish is a trained artist and scientific illustrator who has made a career of communicating science at the University of Colorado Boulder and Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Eric has been a member of the local and NSF Critical Zone program community since 2008, promoting scientific communication to the public. He is an active member of Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.
Coauthor and scientific expert Dr. Suzanne Anderson is a University of Colorado Boulder Professor of Geological Sciences and a leading expert in critical zone (CZ) science. Dr. Anderson has published more than 60 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and co-authored the textbook Geomorphology: The Mechanics and Chemistry of Landscapes in 2010.
The Living Landscape: Discovering the Critical Zone is highly recommended for any elementary-level picture book reader interested in natural history and ecology.