When Planet Earth Was New

James Gladstone, illus. by Katherine Diemert. Owlkids (PGW, dist.), $18.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-77147-203-6
Debut talents Gladstone and Diemert neatly distill a complex concept—the sheer vastness of Earth’s history, and how it evolved over billions of years—using evocative, conversational language and bold mixed-media artwork. The text grabs readers from the start, describing the planet billions of years ago, devoid of life: “You could not walk on the searing-hot molten rock that flowed there... or breathe the deadly poison gas that swirled there. Nothing could.” A purposefully vague timeline and streamlined explanations lend a simple, poetic presence to each page (“A sky full of water vapor poured down as rain. For millions and millions and millions of years, it rained. The rain formed huge oceans”). Washed in a rainbow of neon colors, Diemert’s inventive portrayals of nearly unfathomable times—a molten-red Earth assailed by meteors, marbled undersea rock formations, long-vanished species—will spark readers’ imaginings of a nascent Earth. (“Human life is a speck in time in the history of old Earth,” Gladstone notes.) A concluding “Look Again” section reproduces the 18 illustrations in miniature and provides details about the eras they represent. Ages 4–up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/21/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Children's
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