BANG! The Story of How Life on Earth Began
Walker Studio, 2021
40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99
Today’s book is the perfect accompaniment to Our Country: Ancient Wonders as it takes the reader back beyond the formation on those ancient rocks at Kakadu 2.5 billion years ago to the very beginning of the universe answering those questions that some will inevitably ask about what came before even those ancient Australian formations.
In the beginning there was Nothing
No dark. no light, no day no night.
No sun, no moon, no stars.
No land , no sea, no air.
No plants, no animals
With a clever design technique of increasing the font with each statement, there is a sense of anticipation building until the reader in catapulted into the incredible story of billions of years of life on Earth, from the first tiny cells, through the age of dinosaurs and prehistoric beasts, all the way to the first humans. Using language that appeals as it describes the growth (“green things, buggy things, swimmy things, wriggly things, scaly things (big ones)” it tracks the development of life in a way that offers enough information to satisfy curiosity without being overwhelming, while opening the door to further investigation for those who are intrigued. And, as with Our Country: Ancient Wonders the historians, the scientists, the mathematicians, the artists and the storytellers can explore and explain the theory according to their interest and some can even consider the implication of a radical new theory, perhaps even setting up a debate about that, the Big Bang and the various religious viewpoints.
However, to pinpoint a focus, what really appealed was that after the meteor disaster that wiped out the dinosaur era, the planet recovered and this should give some comfort to those who are anxious about the current focus on the environment and climate change. Both the land and those who inhabit it are very resilient. So with all the dystopian, post-apocalypse literature (both print and screen) dominating their leisure time, there is scope for hope and belief in a future.
Books like this that can open up the potential for a series of rich, meaningful experiences that allow the development of essential investigative skills without appearing to be formal isolated, check-the-box lessons provide authentic learning experiences for students that last well beyond the classroom walls, particularly if there is a co-operative task that allows participants to use and build on their existing interests and talents.
These days, after 51 years in teaching, it is a rare book that makes me wish I was back in the face-to-face situation but both this and yesterday’s have.
And to help you here are some worthwhile links… Geoscience Australia is a rich trove.
Shaping a Nation: A Geology of Australia this is a book with each chapter available separately
You might also like to check out We Go Way Back by Idan Ben-Barak which has a similar theme.