Review Blog

Jul 18 2014

Fossil by Claire Ewart

cover image

Walker, 2014. ISBN 9780802737373.
(Age: 6+) Recommended. Picture book. Fossils. Archaeology. First published in 2004, this is a handsome picture book. Claire Ewart once lived near a lake which had been dredged from a stream bed, so uncovering a myriad of pieces of brachiopods, mollusks and corals, each a fossil.
This story relives all the excitement of finding a fossil, that once was a bone. The story imagines the life of the bird, a pterosaur, as it lives its life cycle. Flying freely in the pale blue skies, scooping squid from the seas below, wearily heading for home, feeding its young from the food it has partly digested, then folding its wings around the young to sleep. The next day sees the same routine until, one day, its living days over, it becomes bones in the sand, buried beneath many millions of days to become a fossil, which is then found.
Beautifully told in poetic words, the story tells smaller children the life cycle of these ancient dinosaurs, talking about their lives form birth to death, showing through the illustrations that they were simply birds, and followed the same life cycle as all of them, finally becoming a fossil for a child to uncover. This celebration of the science that tracks down these fossils and explores them for our better understanding, is an amazing book. Its illustrations in watercolour depict the animal's day from flying high to catching food, avoiding predators and bringing up its young.
I was surprised that I was given two books at the same time. One, Fossil, and the other, Edward and the great discovery (Rebecca McRitchie) deal with parallel topics, one finding a fossil and imagining that animal's life story, the other, following the story of a family of archaeologists. Each compliments the other, and could be well used in a classroom where science is under discussion, and introducing fossils, dinosaurs, endangered species, or archaeology could be done using these books as a starting point. But all that said, Fossil is a wonderful introduction for younger readers of a rich part of our lives.
Fran Knight

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