Review of In the Past

In the Past
by David Elliott; 
illus. by Matthew Trueman
Primary    Candlewick    48 pp.    g
3/18    978-0-7636-6073-4    $17.99

This collection of imaginative, clever poems about ancient animals, all but one extinct, moves chronologically from trilobites in the Cambrian era to woolly mammoths from our current geologic time period (Quaternary), with good representation across dinosaur, sea, and flying species. The poems about each are knowing, humorous, and filled with scientific details. “The bad news: Like a centipede. Eight feet long. Or more. / The good news: Arthropleura was an herbivore.” Readers can fill in the blanks by consulting the end notes, which provide additional facts and personal reflections in a wry, conversational tone. Trueman’s dynamic, creatively composed mixed-media illustrations plunge readers into past environments using awesome, sometimes scary perspectives: up close to the bloodied jaws of a carnivorous Dimetrodon, underneath the massive tail of a Brachytrachelopan or a striking Titanoboa, and within the giant ferns of the Triassic Period.

From the March/April 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more


We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing