CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 20. . . . January 26, 2018
Imagining how Earth must have looked when it began billions of years ago is a challenge for anyone, but especially for youngsters. The time factor alone is mind boggling. This picture book leads the reader through the evolution of our planet with simple text (in uppercase, placed down one side of the picture) and creative, graphic illustrations (a mix of ink, collage and digital media, double page spreads). As each stage is presented—from hot molten rock, through cooling, the presence of water, the growth of tiny life forms that created oxygen so life could flourish, extinctions, to life as we know it today—the phrase “for millions and millions of years” is often repeated to help the reader appreciate the massive time concept. With plenty to study in each bold image, the book provides ample opportunity for reaction, discussion and questions. To help decipher each illustration further, the author has provided a followup page (Look Again...) with more detail in short paragraphs. Scientific vocabulary used there is defined in the Glossary. A list of resources, both print and web based, offers the capable reader more chances to explore the topic.
When Planet Earth Was New works well on two levels: as a picture book with appeal for curious visual learners, there is plenty of striking detail, color and animation. Secondly, the extra science facts will satisfy stronger readers. Separating the elements allows maximum enjoyment for each audience. The book opens out to a large size, perfect for sharing the information that should inspire further exploration.
Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.