Winner of Learning Magazine's Teachers Choice Award!
Formation of Earth
Paperback $9.95 ISBN: 1-58469-032-1
Hardback $19.95 ISBN: 1-58469-033-X
Published by Dawn Publications (DawnPub.com)
Review by April Whitt in PLANETARIAN: JOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL PLANETARIUM SOCIETY (June 2003)
You know that feeling you get sometimes, when you've been thinking about a problem, or puzzling over how to teach some concept, or some friend crosses your thoughts, and the next day that person telephones, or a colleague hands you an activity that matches that concept perfectly, or the answer to the problem pops into your head when you wake up that morning? I think it's called "synchronicity."
A few months ago, the Dome-L list server spun a thread about teaching evolution (or not, depending on your audience). And the next day, this book appeared in my mailbox. The accompanying press release says it best, "Storytelling science: 'Once upon a time' meets evolution." This gloriously illustrated, beautifully written book is a loving letter from the Universe to her Earhlings.
It traces the Universe's development from Big Bang, through particles and anti-particles, atoms, stars and supernovas, formation of heavier elements, and the beginnings of our solar system, ending with a young Earth. BORN WITH A BANG is the first in a trilogy. The next two volumes will trace the evolution of life from "tiny new living things" to dinosaurs, and then the rise of mammals, according to the press release.
The target audience for this book is listed as eight through twelve year olds. The actual age range is far wider. Each adult to whom I've shown the book has wanted to keep it; each child to whom I've read the book wants to hear it over again.
This is a large format paperback book. Each page of text features large type font (the better to read with aging eyes). Most pages have a time-line printed at the top, and reference to science concepts at the back of the book printed at the bottom. Facing each text page is a colorful painting full of details to discover. During my first read through, I was torn between turning pages to gobble up the story and lingering over lavish illustrations.
A summary of information, two pages of discoveries of Earthling scientists, a glossary and a page of resources round out this excellent introduction to cosmology. BORN WITH A BANG received the Teachers Choice Award, and the back cover is full of testimonials from prominent scientists.
Cultural historian Thomas Berry offers a suggestion at the end of the book. "We need to hear the story from our cradle days through all stages of our lives, for we refer to the Universe for our origin and ultimate destiny. It's time to reshape our think inside of this context. Indeed, our future depends upon it."
This is one book you'll want in your gift shop, your personal library, and your teacher resource center. You'll probably need several copies -- mine has already wandered away.