Reviews for In the Past: From Trilobites to Dinosaurs to Mammoths in More than 500 Million Years

by David Elliott

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A dramatic portrait gallery of some of our planet's former residents down through the eras, with pithy odes in rhymed or free verse.Arranged chronologically from a Cambrian Period trilobite to the hairy Mammuthus of the Quaternary, Trueman's 21 subjects loom majesticallysometimes, as in the case of the gore-spattered Dimetrodon or the giant shark Megalodon, in entirely too-close-up views. They are also rendered in such naturalistic detail (for all that some bear almost human expressions) many viewers are likely to flinch as each page is turned. In his short but vivid lines, Elliott generally offers good reasons to be cautious: "The bad news: Like a centipede. Eight feet long. Or more. / The good news: Arthropleura was an herbivore." Or take saber-toothed Smilodon (please): "No compassion. / No tolerance. / No mercy. / No pity. / And definitely no / Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.' " Though the poet generally reflects the visual immediacy of the images, he sometimes takes a broader view; the tadpolelike Astraspis of the early Ordovician is "One note at the beginning / Of a never-ending song," and as for Tyrannosaurus rex, "even kings / are vanquished / when stars fall / from the sky." Many of the informal facts and observations he adds at the end are just as memorably phrased.Highlights from life's last 544 million years infused with humor and wonder. (Picture book/poetry. 5-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This collection of imaginative, clever poems about ancient animals (all but one extinct) moves chronologically from trilobites in the Cambrian era to woolly mammoths from our current geologic time period, with good representation across species. The poems are knowing, humorous, and filled with scientific details. Dynamic, creatively composed mixed-media illustrations plunge readers into past environments using awesome, sometimes-scary perspectives. Timeline. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 1-3-Softly detailed watercolors accompany poems about early life-forms in this moving examination of prehistoric Earth. At the bottom of each page is a small box noting the era of the topic creature and showing the range in millions of years. Each short poem communicates the name of the animal and some details about them with a sense of wonder and humor, often playing on readers' expectations. ("Dilophosaurus" is only three words: "Blessed/with/crests!") Most illustrations are a full spread in size. Trueman's mixed-media artwork is filled with texture and small details; muddy river banks, the fleshy ridges of the megalodon's mouth, the remains of trilobites, etc. The majesty of the larger creatures is also well communicated. An author's note discusses ongoing discoveries of fossils, and explains how the prehistoric eras built on each other like stairs. In addition, a "Notes on the Animals" segment lists each covered time period, the poems that fall within that era, and additional information on creatures. VERDICT Prehistoric beasts are an evergreen favorite among kids, and this wonderful combination of art, poetry, and science is a great addition to libraries.-Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Dinosaurs and other mammoth creatures might be the star attraction here, but the poems themselves are bite-size. In vivacious, often humorous verse, Elliott walks readers through prehistoric times, beginning with the tiny trilobite, which appeared more than 500 million years ago. That much time can be a difficult concept to grasp, but a time line at the bottom of each spread gives readers an assist as the book moves chronologically forward. The text walks a fine line between scientific and poetic, and for the most part, it succeeds gloriously. Each poem's title is the name of its subject. Some require very little introduction (the entirety of the poem for the Jurassic era Dilophosaurus is, quite simply, Blessed / with / crests!), while others are more elaborate the infamous T. rex certainly gets his due (Even kings / are vanquished / when stars fall / from the sky). It's not just dinosaurs profiled here; the book heads all the way into the Quaternary period (that's the one we're currently in) and introduces creatures like the saber-toothed tiger (Smilodon) and the Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus). Trueman's full-bleed, vibrant portraits bring these long-extinct animals to energetic life, and a final spread offers up more scientific facts. A journey into the past that's a visual and linguistic joy.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2018 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Elliott and Trueman take readers to the Cambrian period then work their way forward, highlighting unusual and long-gone creatures, several of which will be new to many readers. There's more than a whiff of caricature to Trueman's larger-than-life mixed-media portraits, not that the creatures are around to complain. A Dilophosaurus ("Blessed/ with/ crests!") looks downright startled, and a Yutyrannus is fearsome as it tromps across a snowy landscape ("Your discovery in China/ created quite a stir./ Could dinosaurs be feathered?/ They could. You were"). Elliott's clever, winking poems are chiefly interested in keeping readers entertained: "Some way you were among/ the first to leave the ocean/ and touch the wet black earth," he writes as an armored Eurpterus slinks out of the water. "We're glad you did,/ for what it's worth." But closing notes should satisfy their curiosity about these ancient beasts-or send them searching for additional information. Ages 3-7. (Mar.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.