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BOOK REVIEW: When Planet Earth Was New by James Gladstone

BOOK REVIEW: When Planet Earth Was New by James Gladstone

OwlKids Books
September 2017
Hardcover, $18.95 (USD)
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Children’s Non-Fiction / Science

7/10

 

It has taken billions of years for Earth to become the planet it is today. When Planet Earth Was New looks back to the very beginning, using a poetic approach grounded in scientific fact to give an overview of how the planet has changed over time: from hot lava to the formation of oceans to the evolution of living things in water and on land. The book also includes the relatively recent evolution of humans — who are just a tiny speck in the sweep of Earth’s history. 

This broad look at the Earth is designed to inspire awe and inquiry. With STEM connections to biology, geology, evolution, and more, it is a springboard for discovery, discussion, and research. A striking design with full-spread, digitally enhanced watercolor art gives the book a rich, atmospheric feel.

 

 

When Planet Earth Was New is full of the aforementioned gorgeous watercolour illustrations depicting the progression from Earth as a recently-formed planet to the hospitable place we know and love today. This includes the formation of land from molten liquid, the development of oxygen, and many other things important to our existence. 

While not all of the images seemed to be as awe-inspiring as some, those few stunning ones make this book really stand out.

At times, the writing, too, seems a little clunky.

MILLIONS OF YEARS PASSED…
AND SLOWLY – SO SLOWLY – EARTH STARTED TO COOL.
THE HOT LIQUID ROCK BECAME SOLID

BUT EARTH’S GREAT GLOBE OF LIFE DID NOT EVOLVE ALL AT ONCE.
CAN YOU GUESS?
IT TOOK MILLIONS AND MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF YEARS FOR ANCIENT LIFE TO EVOLVE.

And missing the rhythm and snappiness found on other pages of the same book. 

THROUGH ALL THIS TIME, ANCIENT SPECIES LIVED AND THRIVED.
THROUGH ALL THIS TIME, ANCIENT SPECIES WENT EXTINCT. THEIR KIND DIED.

THIS IS EARTH TODAY, NOW BILLIONS OF YEARS OLDER.
IT IS GREENER AND BLUER, MORE COMFORTABLE AND MUCH COOLER…
…THAN WHEN PLANET EARTH WAS NEW.

But all in all this is a simple but informative introduction to the creation of planet Earth in a book that can reveal more information to readers as they age, including a closer look at each full-page spread and accompanying information about what the page represents in the history of Earth.



As well as a glossary of terms, a collection of sources, and an author’s note on what inspired the creation of this book.

There are few enough words to a page that this book will engage even the youngest of kids within the picture book age group, but the endmatter enables the kids from the broad group to go digging further for information about our planet’s past. Just the thing for the budding scientist in your family!

 

BOOK REVIEW: When Planet Earth Was New by James Gladstone

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