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Life Story Hardcover – November 16, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
"The drama of Life is a continuing story," says Burton in her epilogue; she amply demonstrates this in her magnificent description of the evolutionary process, with text and paintings presented as a five-act play. All ages.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
"Beginning with the birth of the Sun and continuing through the Earth's creation, the emergence and evolution of animal life, up to the changing seasons of the present, it's a lyrical and informative journey."--Publishers Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
It's not often you find a science book for kids that doesn't talk down to them, or leave out a lot of facts to make the book shorter or less wordy. This book has a lot of words, some of them big scientific words, but it is so elegantly written that my daughter has never lost interest. It begins with descriptions of the creation of the planet and solar system and follows the story of life on our planet through prehistoric times, to present day life on the author's farm. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful, very folk-art like, and very detailed. If your child is interested in dinosaurs, like my daughter is, this is a great book and will broaden their interest into other eras of prehistoric creatures.
Also, the illustration's are beautiful! My 3yr. old is as fascinated by the pictures as he is by the story!
I read this book and "The Little House" by Burton when I was a child and it has been a wonderful experience to share these books with my son!
We own other titles by Burton, The Little House, Katy and the Big Snow, and Calico the Wonder Horse, and love them all. But I think this book is the best. Why? Because, for my daughter, who demands daily readings, it has cracked the world of science wide open, spurring question after question about everything from meteors to the different types of rock, volcanoes, weather, the solar system, and on and on. Using the format of an engaging story, Burton has managed to touch on each of these subjects, and more, and pack so much information into a mere 80-pages. But it's not just rote information, it is a story, it is a play, and it is presented in such an entertaining way that it paves the path for a young child begin a journey of discovery that is integral to a life-long love and understanding of natural history and of the composition of the world around them.
Burton's story begins 'eons and eons ago' when 'our sun was born.' Each page is laid out with the left side containing a one-paragraph description of the period of time being sampled. This is paired with a tri-color visual narrative of what is happening, be it a 5-sketch demonstration of lava erupting from the Earth's core or the evolutionary progression of invertebrate organisms, plants, or animals. The drawings create almost a (slow) motion picture to accompany the words. The left page is dedicated to a full-color scene, set behind a stage, complete with drawn-aside red velvet curtain, and a curious little man examining the different goings-on. He, too, becomes more modern as the story progresses.
Something that I love about the format of this book is that the book begins by capturing snapshots of different periods of time that are very far apart; the first two documented time periods are 560,000,000 years apart. Mid-way through the book, the scenes are only 3,200,000 apart, and finally, by the end of the book, time slows down to 100 years, then 25, then 15, then each of the four seasons, then it is slowed to days, hours, and finally the final dark minutes before the sun rises and a new dawn is upon us. Early on, as time slows, Burton introduces her family into the story, and you find that this is her life story. On the final pages, as the story she has to tell draws to a close, Burton turns the story over to you, the reader, because it is your life story too. That last poetic touch is so beautiful, so perfect, that it leaves me in awe of the woman who wrote this book.
I don't think that this book could have been written, presented, and illustrated better. Every part just 'fits.' The ending, I believe in time, will help my child to understand where she fits into this story, and perhaps she, as I do, will feel that warm swell of love toward our home, our Earth, and all the life that has walked upon it, and gratitude that she has a place among such a brilliant history.
The artwork is incredible. There's something about the style of it that almost... psychedelic. There's a swirling flow to it, with orderly ribbons of plants and animals winding into the distance. Yet while highly stylized, the artwork at the same time offers a wonderful sense of realism. The swamps of the Carboniferous seem so dark and mysterious; the verdant forests at the opening of the Cenezoic Era are infused with the essence of life born anew. And the intricate borders around the "program" at the beginning remind one of the lovingly detailed borders one might find along the high ceiling of some Victorian-era museum.
Even after 40 years, the science behind the book holds up amazingly well. If you want to inspire a love of natural history in your children, get them this book!