Oil is one of our most valuable and potentially damaging natural resources. In Why Are Some Beaches Oily?, Isaac Asimov describes how oil is transported, the risk of oil spills, and the terrible loss of wildlife caused by oil pollution.

For general information on the “Ask Isaac Asimov” series, see What Is a Shooting Star?

On the whole, the environmental books in the “Ask Isaac Asimov” series fare better with me than the astronomical books; perhaps this is because Asimov doesn’t cover environmental issues elsewhere for young children except in the relatively obscure Earth: Our Crowded Spaceship. As a result, I’m a bit less resentful of the incredible cost of this particular book and actually enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend it to an elementary school student with an interest in the subject.

I do have a minor quibble with this book, in that the active toxicity of the chemicals in raw petroleum is glossed over, and another in that it somehow didn’t seem to provide a sufficiently overpowering sense of just how catastrophically horrible an oil spill can be—but those are, as I say, quibbles. Definitely worthwhile for children.

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