Title: Life: The First Four Billion Years
Author: Martin Jenkins
Illustrator: Grahame Baker-Smith
Publisher: Walker Studio
Genre: Children’s non-fiction, History – prehistoric
Book format: Hardback
Sweet Strawberries: Sweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet Strawberry

From extinctions, ice ages and dinosaurs to sea monsters and four-legged fish, discover the incredible story of life on Earth before humans took their first steps.  With breathtaking art capturing a magnificent variety of prehistoric animals, this is the captivating story of our planet, before we called it ours.

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  This is such a stunning book and filled with so much interesting information about how life evolved on our planet from billions of years ago to the age humans and animals of today. This amazing book is around A3 in size and is filled with very thick matt pages of text and beautiful illustrations. The whole book has a lovely feel to it, with shiny bronze lettering on the cover and some material lining around the edge and corners, although being a hardback it is rather heavy.

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The book begins with the origins of life, the start of our galaxy and planet. There is an interesting double page fold out at the start adding a timeline of what was happening on earth billions of years ago as it adapted to accommodate life, as well as interesting information on how life is classified. Although this might sound a little advanced, the text is really interesting, well written for children to understand and kept to manageable small sections with images making it very interesting to read. Every double page after that focuses on different organisms and creatures (life) as it evolves over millions of years.

Life The First Four Billion Years book page image one
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I really have enjoyed reading this book and have to admit that I couldn’t put it down. I ended up reading it all in one session. I have always been a fan of the prehistoric age but I never knew how many different forms of life have existed over the years, especially those that existed before the dinosaurs (before the triassic age). Every double page has the name of the period in history as well as how many millions of years ago it was, in the top corner of the page, which is helpful as lots of pages often span just one era. Every double page has something different on it, from strange early organisms and sea creatures to early fungi, dinosaurs and even the early mammals (which look very rat-like!). All the pages are in chronological order so you can see how life was evolving and you can recognise some early versions of the creatures we know today!

Life The First Four Billion Years book page image two
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Life The First Four Billion Years book page image two folded out section
©The Strawberry Post – these double pages fold out to show more info!

Every page was so fascinating to read, but what made them all the more interesting was definitely the illustrations. Every page had some very detailed illustrations, sometimes looking like pencil sketches while a few images featured more colour, or colourful backgrounds. These pictures are so beautiful and so life-like, I couldn’t help but spend a long time just mesmerised by the images and imagining what these creatures would have been like. There is a glossary at the end of the book which is helpful if you don’t understand all the terms used, as well as an additional timeline.

Life The First Four Billion Years book page image three
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I can’t believe how amazing this book is and how much I’ve learned reading this. I was a fan of dinosaurs and the prehistoric age and have always loved reading about it, but this book is about so much more. The dinosaur ages (triassic, jurrasic and cretaceous) only feature towards the end of the book while so much of it is about the life that came before including the plantlife and creatures that look dinosaur-like. It was even fascinating reading how small single cell organisms became bigger over time with multiple cells working together and how this happened. The whole book is just so interesting and I would recommend it to everyone! The text would be difficult for some younger children to understand, it’s definitely more suited to older children/middle grade ages and above, but I’d recommend this to teens and adults too, and I’m sure some younger children would love to look at the pictures of the creatures too (it’s what I used to do when I was very young and fascinated by dinosaur books)! There is so much information here and presented in such a great and understandable way and it’s a book that will continue to be looked at again. I just wish this I’d had this when I was a child!

Life The First Four Billion Years book page image four
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What do you think of this book?  Are you or your children interested in dinosaurs and the prehistoric?  What would you like to learn about in a non-fiction book?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂