Older Than the Stars by Karen C. Fox, illustrated by Nancy Davis. Grades 2-5. Charlesbridge, February 2010. Review copy provided by publisher.
You are older than the dinosaurs. Older than the earth. Older than the sun and all the planets. You are older than the stars. You are as old as the universe itself.
So begins Older Than the Stars, a picture book that sets out to explain the Big Bang Theory and how the universe was formed. The text follows the same structure as This is the House That Jack Built, only we start with "This is the BANG when the world began." From there, Karen Fox shows us how the tiny particles from the Big Bang formed atoms, which formed gases, which formed stars, etc. etc.
On each page, in addition to the rhythmic, rhyming text, there is also more information to explain each step as the universe builds itself before our very eyes. Atoms form and reform, dust clumps together and makes planets, stars are born (including our sun). Besides all the information on how the universe formed, the takeaway idea here is that the stuff that our bodies are comprised of is the same stuff that's always been here.
The iron in your blood may have once been part of molten lava from a volcano. The carbon in your fingernails may have been part of a tree leaf. And the oxygen in your lungs was probably once breathed by dinosaurs.
The author includes a timeline of the universe and a glossary in the back of the book. The illustrations are very bright and colorful, interacting whimsically with the text. The Big Bang and the formation of the universe is a pretty complex subject, but Older Than the Stars does a great job of simplifying it for young readers. I'd pair it with something like When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm by Hannah Bonner for more information on the earth a long, long time ago.
Read more reviews at Kids Lit and My World - Mi Mundo, and check out the book's website.
Happy Nonfiction Monday! Check out the roundup over at In Need of Chocolate.