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By: Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by: Beckie Prange
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Publication Date: April 2010
ISBN: 978-0618717194
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Reviewe Date: April 2010

Throughout time innumerable species have called Earth their home, yet a full 99% of these life forms have disappeared. Which ones have adapted to the relentless changes over the course of countless millennia and just how did they manage to survive when so many others perished? In this book you will learn about fourteen of them. You will learn about which botanical division they are in the hierarchy of life, how long they have existed on Earth, their size, and just how they managed to survive. You will begin with the first life form, bacteria, which began 3.8 billion years ago and will complete your journey with the human being and learn how our species survived after arriving 100,000 years ago. In between you will learn about the mollusks, lichens, sharks, beetles, diatoms, geckos, ants, grasses, squirrels, crows, dandelions, and coyotes.

Gecko on the Wall

Her jaws dart out
To crunch up flies.

Her tongue flicks up
To wipe her eyes.

She climbs up walls
With eerie cries.

Her tail comes off:
A wriggling prize!

She sprints and leaps
and slinks and spies...

Don’t you wish you were a gecko?

This superbly crafted blend of poetry and the “celebration” of Earth’s rare “survivalist” life forms is simply stunning. This blend brings something as simple as the lichen and actually makes it seem exciting. Each life form is accompanied by a poem and vibrant illustrations that animate the pages. The poems are varied and range from the diamante to an incredible free flowing verse that takes the form of a shark. I found and sensed a lot of excitement in a topic that normally many children would bypass as dull. This book brings new meaning to the phrase “survival of the fittest” and could easily be used as a stepping stone for a school report on one of the species noted in the book. If you want an engaging read about the ubiquitous survivors of the world, you might want to take a look at this marvelous book!

Quill says: This superbly crafted blend of poetry and the "celebration" of Earth's rare "survivalist" life forms is simply stunning!

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