OUT OF THE BLUE:
How Animals Evolved from Prehistoric Seas
Written by Elizabeth Shreeve
Illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon
(Candlewick; $17.99, Ages 6-9)
★Starred Reviews – Kirkus and School Library Journal
Before the text begins, Elizabeth Shreeve’s nonfiction picture book cleverly has readers guess, among hippos, dolphins, and sharks, which two animals are the closest relatives? For the answer, you’ll have to read Out of the Blue: How Animals Evolved from Prehistoric Seas.
Shreeve impressively chronicles life on Earth from its beginning until present. Yet, for such an intricate topic, her kid-friendly text is easy to follow. Readers wanting more data can reference the time periods (noted at the bottom) or learn from the notes accompanying various creatures. The back matter includes sources and further reading.
The illustrations by Frann Preston-Gannon add drama and dimension showing lava-flowing eruptions and the starkness of what scientists call the Great Dying when temperatures soared and life perished. However, most of the art depicts brightly colored celebrations of the wonderful creatures that have inhabited our planet. I like how sketches are used in the sidebar to demonstrate, for example, the size of a prehistoric dragonfly in comparison to a human. (These insects grew huge because of the abundant oxygen levels.)
Information is conveyed in an exciting manner, encouraging page turns to discover the changes of life on Earth while also learning the answer to the opening question. This comprehensive reference book will engage curious young readers.
- Reviewed by Christine Van Zandt (www.ChristineVanZandt.com), Write for Success
(www.Write-for-Success.com), @ChristineVZ and @WFSediting, Christine@Write-for-Success.com
NOTE: I received the book for free from Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.