Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Review: A History of Just About Everything

Publish November 15, 2013

2204_Cv3 A History of Just About Everything: 180 Events, People and Inventions that Changed the World Written by Elizabeth MacLeod and Frieda Wishinsky Illustrated by Qin Leng Kids Can Press 124 pp August 1, 2013 Ages 8 to 11 A History of Just About Everything presents exactly what its title promises. Authors Elizabeth MacLeod and Frieda Wishinsky touch on 180 important stories in politics and law, engineering and technology, biology and medicine, communications and culture–from the first stages of human development six million years ago, to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Both authors are established writers on scientific and historical topics and they expertly include a remarkable amount of information while keeping their entries accessible to their readers. Two features make the book particularly valuable. The first is the “ripples” sidebars that explain later developments resulting from a particular event or discovery. Some of them are close in time, such as how the success of the American Revolution influenced the French Revolution. HistoryofJustAboutEverythingA_2204_preview (dragged) 1 Others are far more distant – the eruption of Vesuvius nearly 2000 years ago preserved artifacts of human Roman life for archeologists 1700 years later. The second feature is the constant linkage, throughout the book, of one entry with others. A   reader exploring  William Gilbert’s discoveries in 1600 about electricity and magnetism is referred to the invention of the compass in 250 BCE and there finds a link to the work of Michael Faraday (1821) and Albert Einstein (1905). A clearly organized time line and index are two more features that assist readers in enjoying and understanding the material. As well, Qin Leng’s illustrations convey useful visual information for the reader, while always keeping the light and charming touch that is a trademark of this artist. In an otherwise fine book, there are a few editing errors that result in an oddly misleading headline about mechanical clocks and a visual error in the Leonardo da Vinci entry (which sharp-eyed children will probably enjoy finding.) Nevertheless, this book is a valuable, enjoyable, and informative read that will spur children’s curiosity about the world. Gillian O'Rielly  Gillian O’Reilly is the editor of Canadian Children’s Book News and a children’s book author. Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. This review, and all of our children’s book reviews, are free to reprint and repost. Download the files here or Contact Us for more information. Word Doc: A History of Just About Everything PDF: A History of Just About Everything