Archive » June 3, 2010
By Terri Schlichenmeyer, Contributing Writer
Grown-ups have probably been asking you that question for years, and you were always proud to show them by holding up so many fingers. By now, though, you’re old enough to tell them out loud.
Would you say Grandma’s old? What about Mom or Dad? And would you be surprised to know that you’re older than you think you are? Find out how that works in the new book “Older Than the Stars” by Karen C. Fox, illustrated by Nancy Davis.
Billions of years ago, the whole universe was a tiny speck of dust. And then, suddenly – BANG – it swelled up bigger and bigger like a balloon. It grew fast as tiny bits of protons swirled around. Electrons formed, followed by atoms. It looked like a snow globe, only bigger than you can imagine.
Over millions of years, the atoms were pulled together by gravity until they formed gigantic clouds that were mashed together into bright, shiny stars. When the stars died, they exploded and their atoms went in all directions throughout the universe, making more clouds and more stars.
Five billion years ago, a cloud of atoms made our sun. A few clumps spun off and made our planets, which means that Earth was created from bits of stars.
Earth was boiling hot when it was born, but as it cooled, continents and oceans formed. Extra atoms joined together to form living creatures, which became more complex as centuries passed. It took billions more years, but plants and animals came to populate the world. And as each living thing died, its atoms were released back into the Earth to be recycled by other creatures that ate, breathed and drank.
All this means that you, too, are created in part from the atoms that came from the Earth that came from the stars that came from the galaxy. Atoms of volcanoes might be in your blood. Bits of your fingernails might have come from dinosaur claws. You, therefore, are older than you think!
I’ll bet you haven’t thought about “The House That Jack Built” in years. You will, when you read this book aloud to your little ones. “Older than the Stars” is one of those unique books that can grow with your child. For the youngest kids, there’s a sing-song-y rhyme that they’ll never tire of hearing, and sweeping, colorful pictures by Nancy Davis to go along with the story.
For older kids, there’s a rudimentary explanation of evolutionary theory that still kind of makes my brain hurt. Yes, it’s complicated, but I couldn’t help but think that this is as easy as it gets for the targeted age group, as well as for adults who are definitely not physicists.
Overall, I think the audience for this book is wide: 4-to-6-year-olds will like the picture-book aspect, while 7-to-11-year-olds will relish the learning here. Either way, if your child has an interest in Earth Science or astronomy, “Older than the Stars” is a book he’ll want to get his fingers on.
“Older than the Stars”
by Karen C. Fox, illustrated by Nancy Davis
c. 2010, Charlesbridge, $15.95 / $19.95 Canada, 32 pages