cover image The Mystery of Life: How Nothing Became Everything

The Mystery of Life: How Nothing Became Everything

Jan Paul Schutten, trans. from the Dutch by Laura Watkinson, illus. by Floor Rieder. S&S/Aladdin/Beyond Words, $15.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-58270-525-5

“For millions of years, this planet has been teeming with life, all of which is made up of... lifeless atoms. That’s a marvel, isn’t it?” In a book originally published in the Netherlands, Schutten looks into the miracle of life, whether the specimen in question is a microscopic bacterium or an invented sample human, “Joe Schmo from Buffalo,” exploring the age of the planet, natural selection, and the development of life on Earth along the way. Rieder’s illustrations, seen in b&w by PW, echo the playful tone that Schutten often adopts (“Were Our Ancestors Slime Balls?” and “What’s So Great About Our Eyes?” represent typical question-driven section headers). It’s an offbeat but informative guide to life that introduces as many questions as it answers. Ages 10–14. (Sept.)