Life: The First Four Billion Years: The Story of Life from the Big Bang to the Evolution of Humans

Candlewick Studio. Sept. 2019. 80p. chron. glossary. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781536204209.
Gr 5-8–This beautiful book begins with a large fold-out page where living things, or organisms, are described down to cellular detail, along with an explanation of how life is classified by scientists, a review of rocks and fossils, and a brief time line of the first two billion years of life on Earth. After that, the book is divided into chapters corresponding to each geologic era from Proterozoic (2.5 billion to 542 million years ago) to the more “modern” Neogene Era (2.3 to 2.6 million years ago) in which many of the first ape species evolved. Each chapter features a short summary of life that appeared during that time period along with Baker-Smith’s lovely sketches of the plants and animals that lived on the planet. The color drawings that begin each chapter fade into black-and-white pages with more detailed sketches. Each plant or animal is labeled along with its approximate size in both imperial and metric units. The book concludes with a glossary and abbreviated geologic time line. The language style is appropriate for middle school students, especially for those budding scientists who are enamored with Earth’s earliest days.
VERDICT Libraries who choose to purchase this book will want to make sure they have shelves to accommodate its large trim size (11 7/16” x 13 7/8” in) or create space on a table where it can be easily browsed. A useful purchase for libraries that want to spruce up their science nonfiction collection in a giant way.

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