In the Past: From Trilobites to Dinosaurs to Mammoths in More Than 500 Million Years
Beginning with Trilobites from the Cambrian Period (544-504 million years ago) and ending with the genus Mammuthus of the most recent, or Quaternary Period (1.8 million years ago to the present), author David Elliott’s informed, witty, and sometimes soulful poems and illustrator Matthew Trueman’s eye-popping, mixed media close-up views offer a feast for young paleontology enthusiasts. Among this gallery of fascinating (or nightmarish, depending on your point of view) former denizens of our world, there is the goliath Meganeura (“No birds yet./Only you in the sky./Meganeuropsis permiana:/the giant dragonfly!”), the eight-foot-long (“or more”) centipede-like Arthropleura, and the fanged and feathered Yutyrannus. One double-page spread in this large-scale picture book has readers looking into the lethal maw of a Megalodon. In another, Tyrannosaurus rex stands against a nightscape, unaware of a subtle object overhead signaling that “even kings/are vanquished/when stars fall/ from the sky.” In the back of the book, Elliott provides facts about the creatures that inspired his poems (along with a pronunciation guide) and includes a note about the evolving nature of our paleontological knowledge that ends with a teaser for readers to ponder. (Although, having known a few young experts in the field, they won’t need to ponder long.)
Lynne Heffley ©2018 Parents’ Choice
A freelance writer and editor for the arts and non-profit organizations, Lynne is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she established the paper’s first weekly children’s arts and entertainment beat.