Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books

History via foldout timeline: A Brief History of Life on Earth

A Brief History of Life on Earth, by Clémence Dupont, (Apr. 2019, Prestel Publishing), $24.95, ISBN: 9783791373737

Ages 6-10

A book that touts the claim, “Book folds out the length of a triceratops”, on the cover is a book that I’m going to stop and read. A Brief History of Life on Earth attempts to put the changes our little blue dot has been through into perspective by creating a foldout book that stretches through time and unfolds to reveal the formation of volcanoes and glaciers; the development of aquatic life, to the dinosaurs, early mammals, and modern humans, ending with a modern-day lakeside scene. Each spread folds out, accordion-style; the illustrations are colorful. Each spread has the noted age and time period (Hadean Age, 4.6 to 4 billion years ago; Proterozoic Age, 2.5 billion to 540 million years ago), and a brief, descriptive paragraph. Upon reaching the end of the Holocene Epoch (11,700 years ago to the present day), readers can flip the page over and look through a timeline of Earth’s first 4.6 billion years, really giving kids an idea of how recently we humans arrived on the scene. The book unfolds to a full 26 feet (8 meters), allowing you to see a truly visual timeline. Just get a lot of volunteers in a large space to hold the pages!

This is a handy book for classroom and library reference, and a fun gift for science fans. In circulation, I know my copy would be dead within the first 3-5 circs. But would I buy a copy to use during science storytimes or Discovery Club sessions? Heck, yes. It’s fun, eye-catching, and informative.

A Brief History of Life on Earth was originally published in the UK in 2017. Reference Readalikes would include the Wallbook Timeline books by Christopher Lloyd and the Welcome to the Museum series.


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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