Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct.

An illustrated overview of life’s history on Earth, moving backward from now to its beginnings 3.5 billion years ago.

Zoehfeld begins with the present epoch, using the unofficial Anthropocene moniker, then skips back 12,000 years to the beginning of the Holocene and so back by periods to the Ediacaran and its predecessors, with pauses along the way to marvel at the widespread End-Cretaceous and End-Permian extinctions. Along with offering general observations about each time’s climate and distinctive biota, she occasionally veers off for glances at climate change, food webs, or other tangential topics. In each chapter she also identifies several creatures of the era that Csotonyi illustrates, usually but not always with photographic precision in scenes that are long on action but mostly light on visible consumption or gore. If some of the landscape views are on the small side, they do feature arresting portraits of, for instance, a crocodilian Smilosuchus that seems to be 100% toothy maw and a pair of early rodents resembling fierce, horned guinea pigs dubbed Ceratogaulus. Though largely a gimmick—the chapters are independent, organized internally from early to late, and could be reshuffled into conventional order with little or no adjustment to the narrative—the reverse-time arrangement does afford an unusual angle on just how far deep time extends.

Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912920-05-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019



Should attract aspiring adventurers.

After showcasing risk-taking gals in Women Daredevils (2007), Cummins introduces 10 “dauntless” women born before 1900 whose little-known deeds “contribut[ed] to science, geography, history, and cultural understanding” at a time when “proper ladies simply did not go gallivanting around the world to explore new territories.”

Starting with Louise Boyd, who traded stylish dresses for boots and breeches to explore the Arctic, and closing with Daisy Bates, who studied Australian Aborigines for 35 years, Cummins presents breezy three-to-four–page biographies of her unconventional females. The variety of their endeavors astound. Nellie Cashman “rushed” for gold in British Columbia, the Klondike and Alaska; botanist Ynes Mexia collected thousands of plants in the wilderness of Mexico, the United States and the Amazon; Lucy Cheesman sojourned with cannibals while studying insects in the South Pacific. Suffragist Annie Peck scaled Europe and South America’s highest peaks. Dutch heiress Alexandrine Tinné searched for the Nile’s source and was murdered traversing the Sahara. Delia Akeley became the first woman to cross Africa. Violet Cressy-Marcks made eight trips around the world, and Freya Stark traveled throughout the Middle East. In an engaging, informative style, Cummins highlights fascinating facts about these feisty females “who conquered the unknown.” Dramatic watercolor illustrations memorialize each.

Should attract aspiring adventurers. (author’s note and list of additional female explorers; selected bibliography, websites) (Collective biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3713-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012



Still, for armchair tourists, a broad if rosy picture of our neighbor to the north.

Arrays of small color photos, cartoons and occasional comic-book pages provide visuals for a young traveler’s lively if superficial account of a quick province-by-province drive across Canada.

Bowers’ travelogue is similar in tone and content but aimed at a younger audience than her Wow Canada (2010) (and proceeds east to west before looping north, rather than the reverse). She takes her 9-year-old narrator to cities, roadside attractions and natural wonders from Cape Spear to Iqaluit. The child's observations are interspersed with side comments (“We walked around the lake until the mosquitoes had sucked all our blood”) and brief info-dumps from tour guides, a fact-loving little cousin and others. Simplification leads to some misinformation (no, the West Edmonton Mall is not the “world’s biggest,” nor is it strictly accurate to claim that Lake Michigan is “the only [great] lake not in Canada”). Ultimately and unfortunately, readers will come away knowing much more about regional foods (“Tried eating haggis. Big mistake”) and other artifacts of European settlement than newer immigrant populations or even, until the chapter on Nunavut, First Nations.

Still, for armchair tourists, a broad if rosy picture of our neighbor to the north. (maps, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-77049-255-4

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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