A Street Through Time, written by Dr Anne Millard and illustrated by Steve Noon
In 2004 my in-laws took our family to London for Spring break. It was an amazing trip despite my chagrin at finding books in the UK cost twice as much as books here, preventing me from bringing home suitcases full of the fantastic kid's books that are published there and not in the US. While I practiced great restraint, one of the best books that made it across the pond with us was A Street Through Time : A 12,000-Year Walk Through History by Dr Anne Millard, illustrated by Steve Noon. My history loving older son pored over this book many times over the years. I don't know why I never thought of reviewing it here before but, when I noticed my younger son, now eight - the age his big brother was when we bought this book - poring over it (in it's falling apart, much loved state) in the same way and I realized I had overlooked a real gem worth owning.
One of the things that makes this book brilliant is the publisher - DK, the maker of the books that are responsible (along with the internet) for making encyclopedias obsolete. DK's books are meticulously illustrated and overflowing with detail, usually presented in small chunks of text paired with multiple photographs and illustrations per page that make the books digestible even for pre-readers. A Street Through Time : A 12,000-Year Walk Through History is a bit different in that one illustration is featured on each of the fourteen two-page spreads with content information spaced around the borders. Actually, while writing this review I learned that A Street Through Time : A 12,000-Year Walk Through History was updated and reissued this year, and the images below reflect the new, slightly different layout of the book, which actually adds even more information than the original, which was published in 1998.
The cross sections in the book are amazing and remind me of the great Stephen Biesty and his newest book, which would compliment A Street Through Time : A 12,000-Year Walk Through History very nicely, Into the Unknown : How Great Explorers Found Their Way By Land, Sea and Air, written by Stuart Ross.
Another genius aspect to A Street Through Time : A 12,000-Year Walk Through History is the character of Henry Hyde, the intrepid time traveler who appears in every picture. Even if your child seems to have absolutely no interest in the pace of history, s/he will enjoy this clever Where's Waldo aspect of the book and, no doubt, eventually, begin to take interest in the information on the pages. There is also a "Time-Traveling Quiz" and a glossary at the end of the book. In the end, though, what always amazes me about this book, and I think it's because I live in a relatively young country, is the idea that there are places in this world where a street has existed, in one form or another, for 12,000 years!