Review of We Go Way Back

We Go Way Back We Go Way Back
by Idan Ben-Barak; illus. by Philip Bunting
Primary    Roaring Brook    40 pp.
2/23    9781250850799    $18.99
e-book ed.  9781250291868    $10.99

Ben-Barak and Bunting have impressively produced a thought-provoking, scientifically precise, and accessible explanation of the origins of life and evolution across Earth’s history for a young audience. Ideas about life, time, and heredity are conveyed through friendly illustrations and simple sentences (albeit with some sophisticated vocabulary). The book opens with questions that children may ask about their human families and histories: “What is life?” “How did I get it?” A deceptively modest reply, its last phrase repeated throughout the book, serves as an organizing concept as the origins of cellular organisms are explained: “Life Is the Way That Some Things Make More Things That Are a Lot Like Themselves but Sometimes a Little Bit Different.” In the final pages, a gorgeous gatefold illustration invites readers to spot familiar plants and creatures (including a human) and trace their paths back to the first cell—a “very clever little bubble.” If readers pause to let the statements sink in and look closely at the details in the finely crafted illustrations, they’ll find clever subtleties that invite further contemplation about what makes “all of us.”

From the March/April 2023 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.

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