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Saturday, July 29, 2017

In The Beginning: A Nearly Complete History of Almost Everything



In the Beginning: A Nearly Complete History of Almost Everything 

illustrated by Brian Delf
written by Richard Platt
published in 1995
published by Dorling Kindersley


Being a big fan of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, I wanted something like that for the kids that will give them a peek into the fantastic diversity that is their world, and possibly an insight into how it got to be that way. A book that is visual and concise, that will draw the young reader without the loud distractions that seem to be a required feature of today's "fact books" -- too many boxes and fonts and insets all screaming for attention with equally bright and eye-popping pictures that vie for attention and thus become counter-productive in engaging a kid who can absorb information even without the gimmicky presentation.

So, when I came across a sole used copy of In the Beginning: A Nearly Complete History of Almost Everything at Powell's Books, I dashed to the checkout counter, paid for it, tucked it into my tote bag, and then released my breath that I didn't even know I was holding. This book had the right balance and the right format that would engage the younger child for hours (and me, of course)

Yes, it was published over a dozen years ago, but, the nice thing about the content of the major part of this book is that it is history, drawing from established facts. Plus it is a DK Book. It might be nice to add an illustration or two in a page or two to bring it up to date but on the scale of time discussed in the book, the last 12 years don't add much more than a trickle to the information therein.






Big Bang, Origins of Life and so on start off the book, but, what is instructive is the illustrated presentation showing the progress of each theme through centuries, themes like: Clothing, Homes, Buildings, Writing, Weapons, Transportation, Communication...




This is a book that cannot be read in a hurry, in one sitting. So, I was glad I picked it up at the beginning of summer break. Now that we are in the second half of summer break, I am glad that the book has been pored over at leisure on  many a peaceful night (and afternoon) by the younger child, who is very much into information-gathering.

The older child picked and chose the pages she was drawn towards - like the Clothing, Two-Wheeled Transportation, and Medicine.

[image source: photos of personal copy of the book]

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