cover image Older Than Dirt: A Wild But True History of Earth

Older Than Dirt: A Wild But True History of Earth

Don Brown and Michael Perfit. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18.99 (112p) ISBN 978-0-544-80503-3

In the tradition of Larry Gonick’s The Cartoon History of the Universe, Brown (Drowned City) and geologist Perfit craft a simultaneously irreverent and informative comic that examines how Earth came to be. This grand tour of the planet is hosted by an affable and well-informed groundhog who introduces significant moments, key theories, and scientists, accompanied by an earthworm, who lobs easy questions and provides comic relief. “Radiation from the sun! Where’s my umbrella?” gasps the worm. “You already have one,” replies the groundhog. “It’s called the ozone layer.” Brown strips down unnecessary backgrounds and eliminates extraneous details to focus on exactly what needs to be depicted; one three-panel sequence, for example, follows India’s collision with Asia that created the Himalayas. Brown and Perfit recount Earth’s history mostly through dialogue, except during mini-biographies that explore the discoveries of specific scientists, such as Alfred Wegener, who first proposed the theory of continental drift. The groundhog and worm’s repartee results in a witty history of the planet that packs a remarkable amount of information into an engaging format. Ages 10–12. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Sept.)