Gr 1-3-Fact and fiction blend in picture-book format to explain how enough air was produced to sustain the first life on land. As a father and daughter explore the woods, he explains how tiny green cells absorbed and used the sun's energy, water, and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen about two billion years ago. The narrative flows in a conversational style with realistic, childlike questions and adult responses. Illustrations follow the time changes in the text, but don't strengthen the content. Subdued tones, at times rather drab, include scenes of the girl superimposed over imagined areas of long ago. Others are partially obscured by large insets attempting to show the function of cells. This technique isn't as successful as in Peters's The Sun, the Wind and the Rain (Holt, 1988), illustrated by Ted Rand. Although books limited to this scientific theory for the young are few, this title will have difficulty finding an audience. Its strength is the feeling of closeness between father and daughter as they share thoughts, discoveries, and information.-Diane Nunn, Richard E. Byrd Elementary School, Glen Rock, NJ
Meg and her dad take a walk in the woods, where they find "rocks that look like stacks of lumpy pancakes." Her dad explains the creation of these fossils and their role in creating Earth's oxygen about two billion years ago. Dad's story of those prehistoric "times is pictorially presented with his narrative in refreshing, harmonious, and realistic illustrations done in watercolor, ink, and colored pencil. Teachers will find this blend of scientific information and fiction an appealing way to introduce the study of rocks and fossils to youngsters. A concluding note substantiates the scientific facts about the stromatolites, which were built by tiny organisms named cyanobacteria that used the process of photosynthesis to create an atmosphere filled with enough oxygen to support plant and animal life as we know it today.