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FOSSIL by Bill Thomson


by Bill Thomson ; illustrated by Bill Thomson

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4778-4700-8
Publisher: Two Lions

Exploring a lakeshore, a boy and his dog find a series of rocks which, when broken, reveal fossils that come alive in this wordless but vaguely menacing narrative.

The first rock breaks by accident; a bit of fern emerges and takes root. It takes purposeful effort to reveal the next two, but out comes an oversized dragonfly and then a pterodactyl. Thomson’s hyper-realistic art uses exaggerated and unusual perspectives to emphasize the boy’s heavy human hand and large feet, the size of the prehistoric reptile, and the boy’s expressions of shock and awe. Some images are framed in insets on top of the wider vistas on the spread. The art, done by hand using acrylic paint and colored pencils, is almost photographic in its detail. Figures and stones alike are set against a background of cloudless blue sky and an expanse of sand; some greenery in the background provides a horizon. As in his wordless Chalk (2010), Thomson’s images come to life, but this story is disturbingly destructive. Although the author opens with a note about fossils, “By studying fossils, we can learn a lot about prehistoric life,” the boy destroys them to save his dog, carried away on the pterodactyl’s back—a mixed message indeed.

Sometimes imagination can take you too far. (Picture book. 5-9)