Saturday, March 12, 2016

Timeline: A Visual History of our World



Timeline: A Visual History of Our World
by Peter Goes
Gecko Press, 2015. Informational.

History can be tricky. Young readers are awfully good at understanding isolated events or learning about individuals, but the full scope of our history can be (understandably) daunting. The most sweeping history books tend to be hulking, text-dense volumes that can leave a reader intimidated and discouraged.

Timeline shatters those notions. This is a book that covers the span of earth's history from the Big Bang to the rise of ISIS, but its greatest strength is its accessibility. Goes dominates his pages with illustrated material, depicting his timeline as a sort-of road on which events, creatures, and people unfold. Each page focuses on a time period, and explanatory text and captions appear organically along the images, curving with them in a seamless experience. The book also remains objective in its telling of history, but it doesn't shy away from the past's more challenging eras. Conflict and injustice are presented, given just as much emphasis as our triumphs.

Goes, a Belgian illustrator, does not offer editorial interjections on events, nor does he push a Eurocentric view of the world. North American history and Asian history and African history and all the rest are featured here, and Timeline acknowledges this grand scope -- human history, not simply one culture's story. The result is a book that accurately reflects our species' ability to grow ever better and closer while still acknowledging the work we've done and have yet to do.

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