The Story of Everything: From the Big Bang Until Now in Eleven Pop-Up Spreads

Neal Layton, Author , paper engineering by Corina Fletcher. Barron's $18.99 (12p) ISBN 978-0-7641-5985-5

This pithy, pop-up presentation of evolutionary history puts some whiz-bang into the Big Bang. Readers can lift flaps, pull tabs and spin wheels to discover what has transpired over the last 15 billion years. From single-celled organisms that say, " 'Hello!' 'We're cells!' " to dinosaurs labeled as "Flying Ones" (fans will recognize a pteradactyl) or "Snapping Ones" (a T. Rex), Layton's (Extreme Animals ) playful text and childlike cartoons plus Fletcher's clever paper engineering add up to lighthearted sophistication. While the initial spread is hard to top (folds of red paper explode outward to reveal the text: "When all of a sudden... bang ! The universe appeared"), subsequent pages also surprise and entertain. In one of the book's most inventive uses of the format, flaps and pull tabs trace the evolution of "small shrew-like mammals" to monkeys. The subsequent spread about apes employs tabs to expose their brain sizes, from "Small Brain" to a caveman leaping away from these furry ancestors—with "boiiiing! " trailing in large typeface—labeled "Big Brain!" (jotted beneath his lift-the-flap forehead). Young readers will appreciate the inventive pop-ups, while older audiences will be amused by the subtle, sometimes wry humor in hand-lettered speech bubbles (e.g., scientists under a corner flap argue over the demise of the dinosaurs). The ending asks readers to ponder the future as they view a photo of Earth from space. Far from flip, this unique take on our beginnings is well-worth the trip. Ages 6-up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/20/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Genre: Children's
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