Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Alice Schertle
Illustrator:  Kenneth Addison 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 to 10
Lee and Low Books, 2007   ISBN: 978-1584300601

Long ago we lived in a river valley in Africa. We were simple creatures who "ate what we could catch or find." But, over time, we changed; we started standing more upright, we becameĀ more and more intelligent, and we began usingĀ our hands in new ways. Then, fully upright, we walked out of the valley and traveled great distances to far off lands. When we came to the "vastness of the sea" we built boats so that we might cross it.

We learned to build houses, to plant crops, to domesticate animals, and to build roads. We also learned how to make war on one another. Many of us began to practice different religions and we became creative with our music, our art, our plays, and our words.

We also began to invent all kinds of incredible things like elevators, saxophones, and hang gliders. We began to explore new frontiers like the deepest oceans, space, and the dark recesses of the human body.

A very few of us then chose to look for the place where our journey began. It was hard for "we had forgotten" our origins, and the search took a long time. The valley where we had once stood with "the African wind in our hair" was waiting for us to find it, so that we might look for the bones of our ancestors and learn about our past.

In this unique picture book, with its singular collage artwork, Alice Schertle explores the history of mankind, ending her narrative with a gentle reminder that it is very important to appreciate ones past in order to understand ones present and future. On the last two pages we see archaeologists working in the field, carefully excavating around the remains of human bones, and we can hope that these scientists will find the answers to some of their questions.