When Planet Earth Was New

Canadian author James Gladstone takes early readers through an overview of Earth's evolution in his wondrous picture book, When Planet Earth Was New. Spanning billions of years, he starts with an uninhabitable planet--"You could not walk on the searing-hot molten rock that flowed there... or breathe the deadly poison gas that swirled there"--and moves through the creation of oceans and life forms, the appearance and extinction of dinosaurs and finally to the Earth his audience sees all around them. "It took millions and millions and millions of years more... to evolve the life we see on Earth today. Life that includes people like you and me."

Gladstone's writing hits his target age group on the bull's eye, sparking imaginations with "mats of slimy green" and "a sky full of water vapor pour[ing] down as rain." It also exposes young readers to scientific information, emphasizing the millions of years each evolutionary stage encompasses on the Earth timeline and introducing concepts such as molten rock, the creation of oxygen and extinction. For advanced readers, a "Look Again" section at the book's conclusion delves into more detail with facts that include information on asteroids, the atmosphere and stromatolites.

Pushing this beautiful history of Earth over the bar of excellence are Katherine Diemert's brilliant ink, collage and digital media illustrations. The vibrant colors pop on the page, with texture adding a rich dimension to land, sea and animals. This perfect union of words and images telling the story of their awesome planet will mesmerize children and adults alike. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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