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Planet Earth

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Budding Jules Vernes should have a ball with this combination atlas-encyclopedia. You can whiz round the world via traditional maps or nifty satellite photos (which can be enlarged) or explore the historical, geological, and ecological features of 12 regions, from the subarctic tundra of northern Canada to the deserts of Algeria. The explorations of Planet Earth include diverting, if not all that informative, video clips. For those who want just the facts, there are stats on most of the world’s nations (the average life expectancy in Gambia [45 years] versus the U.S. [77], for example). There’s even a sampling of languages — a fun idea not taken far enough. All this and the Pyramids, too. B