The mysterious, ancient past of our planet is on display in these two handsome, intriguing books.
Toby and the Ice Giants, written and illustrated by Joe Lillington published in 2015 by Flying Eye Books
First up is this small catalog of gigantic animals who roamed the earth during the last ice age. It’s engagingly presented to win the hearts of kids ages 4 or 5 and up.
Toby, a young bison living at the time, goes on a walkabout of sorts, meeting a massive, wooly rhino, a bear who stands over 9 feet tall, a smilodon — aka a sabre-toothed tiger — and several other giants of the past.
Exceptionally handsome illustrations convey the enormity and wildness of these beasts, while bubbles of conversation between them and Toby mellow the content nicely for very young children. For each animal there’s also a panel with some stats, a couple of short paragraphs of description, and a sketch showing how largeit was compared to an adult man.
End papers include a world map showing where these fellows roamed and a selection of other ice age animals Toby doesn’t get to meet. This is a really attractive book with just the right amount of information to pique interest in these out-sized, remarkable days.
Joe Lillington is a phenomenal UK illustrator and I so wish more of his titles were in my library system. Check out his website here, and see if you are lucky enough to locate some for yourself.
Historium, written by Jo Nelson, illustrated by Richard Wilkinson published in 2015 by Big Picture Press
“It would take a museum of unimaginable proportions to adequately represent the many rich and varied cultures of the past,” says Jo Nelson, as she welcomes us into this Historium — a rich museum of sorts, containing curated exhibits from ancient Africa, America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania.
With the oldest artifacts reaching back to unknown, distant dates — perhaps a million years ago — and the most recent objects dating in the 18th or early 19th centuries, this collection encompasses a massive span of time. However, the bulk of the items were created prior to 1300.
Regally illustrated on oversize pages are painted stones and curious figurines, glinting crowns and musical instruments. They are detailed enough that you may think they are photographs, but they were drawn and painted digitally.
Just like walking through a museum with an audio guide, Nelson provides enticing background on each one. There is no talking down here. Adults are a reasonable audience for these explanations of varied cultures and their artwork. Children ages 10 and up will absorb this best by taking it in a bit at a time with an adult.
It’s an excellent means of whetting your appetite for learning more about mankind’s amazing creativity, spanning time and the globe; for getting a glimpse of how much sense we can make of these long-gone people from what they have left us, as well as the teasing mysteries that remain.
An absolutely handsome book that’s part of a Welcome to the Museum series by Big Picture Press.