Reviews provided by Syndetics
School Library Journal Review
Gr 5-9-An illustrated adaptation/abridgment of Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, (Broadway, 2003), this treatment addresses the same set of sprawling questions as the original. Among them: How and when was the universe born and how vast might it now be? How old is the Earth and how much does it weigh? Why did the dawn of life happen to emerge here, of all places, and how could lowly microbes possibly be the primitive precursors of a species as complex as Homo sapiens? These are weighty questions for readers of any age to grapple with, but Bryson lightens the load by skillfully scaffolding the concepts he presents. Each topic is concisely addressed in the author's breezy Brit voice, explaining exactly what we know and how we came to know it. Photographs, cartoon sidebars, humorous anecdotes, and frequent recaps entertain and reinforce understanding along the journey. Ultimately, all of the ideas come together to give readers a wide-angle perspective on what a wildly improbable privilege it is to be a member of a species that the author says is "perhaps, the universe's supreme achievement." Bryson wraps up by suggesting that since we seem to be both "the best there is" and the only species capable of deciding our planet's future, we humans should redouble our efforts at being good stewards of the Earth. A highly recommended piece of popular science that succeeds largely because-as he nears age 60-there's clearly still a curious kid living in Bryson's head.-Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Bryson offers a kid-friendly version of his popular-science compendium for adults, A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003), in this illustrated trip through, well, nearly everything. His enthusiasm is apparent right from the foreword, where he proclaims that there isn't anything in existence not a thing that isn't amazing and interesting when you look into it. He proceeds to back up this statement as he whirls through mind-numbing notions such as the creation of the universe and the life-span of an atom with good cheer and accessible, even exciting, writing. The two-page spreads meander their way through the various recesses of science with a combination of explanatory prose, historical anecdotes, wry asides, and illustrations that range from helpful to comical. Absent are source notes to back up Bryson's many claims (or any other back matter aside from an index, photo credits, and a list of Bryson's adult books). That isn't to say he shouldn't be trusted, but readers should take this for what it is: irreverent and illuminating edutainment, good for the science-phobic and -centric alike.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2009 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
In this abridged and illustrated version of his Short History of Nearly Everything (2003), Bryson invites a younger crowd of seekers on a tour of time, space and sciencefrom the Big Bang and the birth of the solar system to the growth and study of life on Earth. The single-topic spreads are adorned with cartoon portraits of scientists, explorers and (frequently) the author himself, which go with small nature photos and the occasional chart or cutaway view. Though occasionally subject to sweeping and dubious statements"There's no chance we could ever make a journey through the solar system"Bryson makes a genial guide ("for you to be here now, trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to come together in a complicated and obliging manner to create you"), and readers with even a flicker of curiosity in their souls about Big Ideas will come away sharing his wonder at living in such a "fickle and eventful universe." (index) (Nonfiction. 11-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.