It’s that time of year again. Parents (and other family members) are searching for (and buying) what to give their kids during this holiday season. Enter British Author Christopher Lloyd, who back in October introduced his latest children’s history book titled “Absolutely Everything! A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things To Numerous to Mention.” This is arguably the longest title of any book we’ve seen in recent memory. Is Absolutely Everything the right history book for your kids? Let’s find out.
Absolutely Everything! A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things To Numerous to Mention
Christopher Lloyd’s book is comprised of 15 chapters spanning some 330 pages. Fourteen are dedicated to science and history, with the final chapter covering more personal interests of the author. Upon opening the book, you’ll notice that the type font is large and legible, and the use of colors and imagery is prolific.
This book is aimed at kids aged 10-14, principally those in 6th through 9th grades. I can attest to this as most of what’s covered in the first 14 chapters was taught to yours truly when in those grades. Lloyd’s telling of history is a general one, nothing too specific or wordy. One might even say that the wording was typed while wearing kid gloves.
The first third of this book is devoted to science, what we think we collectively know or is generally accepted about this planet, the solar system, and the universe. Reading these chapters brought back memories of my 7th-8th-grade science class taught by Mr. Young.
Now, while this has nothing to do with the book, what I remember most about Mr. Young was his occasionally eccentric behavior. A few weeks before Halloween and Fools Day, he would start growing a beard. Then on those holidays, he would arrive at school with one side of his beard shaved clean off all-the-while dressed as former pro tennis player Chris Evert. It was a sight to behold.
The second half of the book covers the history of the world as we know it. There’s no more guessing thanks to the creation of written (translatable) language. Topics covered here are early civilizations that have come and gone, wrapping up with the middle ages.
The final third of the book covers the last 700 years of our existence.
Any of these chapters could fill up a 330-page book on their own. In fact, there are thousands of such books available at our disposal. This book is meant to wet the appetite for further learning. If a particular chapter excites you, let’s say the one on dinosaurs, then you pick a book on dinosaurs. I recommend Ultimate Dinopedia from Nat Geo Kids.
What I like about this book.
Absolutely Everything kicks off with a bang, literally a ‘big bang.’ This is the topic covered in the first chapter “Nothing to Something.” These first 20 pages are dedicated to the formation of the universe as well as this very planet.
This is followed by the sea creatures from hundreds of millions of years ago that made their way onto land, leading up to the dinosaurs. Do you know a child who isn’t interested in dinosaurs? I can’t think of one.
I recall from my childhood wanting to be a paleontologist when I grew up. So that dream never came to true; regardless, I’m still fascinated by these creatures that walked the earth hundreds of millions of years ago.
What you read here should complement what you’ve already learned in your junior high public school science courses.
Those of you who believe in the teachings of the flat earth society, unintelligent design, or some other theory won’t like these initial 3 or 4 chapters. You need not worry as the book is about to jump into the recorded history of man.
This book takes you from the early Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations to the Greeks, the Romans, across continents to the Americas and China. It covers the rise and fall on numerous civilizations and their lasting impact on the world. In fact, I was a bit surprised that it covered Chinese and Islamic history.
The book wraps up with the age of exploration, peoples and industrial revolutions, and then into global conflicts such as WWII. Sadly, as we all know, wars didn’t end with that one.
What I don’t like about this book
The title and the cover of the Absolutely Everything are unappealing. The title is unnecessarily lengthy, and the cover is poorly designed. A lot more thought should have gone into both.
Regrettably, this book couldn’t be called History of the World, Part I, as this title has already been used by the great Mel Brooks.
Perform a title search under “Absolutely Everything” on any number of web browsers. You’ll come up with results that have nothing to do with this particular book. In fact, you’ll quickly learn that numerous books begin with these same two words. Unfortunately for the publisher, this leads to plenty of needless confusion.
Additionally, the book could have done without most, if not all of the simple illustrations.
I get it, this is an introductory kid’s history and science book. More often than not, visual indicators are more compelling than words, but there are millions of terrific photographs in numerous image libraries available to choose from. Unmistakably, there are photographs in Absolutely Everything. All I’m suggesting here is that I would have preferred more of them.
Chapter 15 is a tough one to wrap my head around. I’m my opinion, it’s the only chapter worth skipping, stapling together, or outright removing from the book. It’s a departure from the previous 14 chapters and is full of what I believe are the author’s favored personal beliefs. Had I written a chapter on post World War II history and science, it would have actually focused on these subjects of history and science, and not reached into environmentalism, social views, and yes, mind-shaping. Rather than teaching, the author appears to be leading young minds in a narrow direction focusing on enlisting or recruiting to his ideas. For a chapter illustrated with an image of a robot, how about we stick to a chapter on robotics and the digital revolution.
Most kids under 10 don’t know a world before the advent of the smartphone.
You don’t have to be a teen to read this book. It’s a useful refresher for those of us long out of junior high school.
Is Absolutely Everything! A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things To Numerous to Mention the best children’s history book of 2018? This is a question best answered after completing this and a few other books.
Absolutely Everything makes for a fitting gift regardless of holiday or occasion. It lists for $22, but you can get it on Amazon.com for 30% less at under $15. A link has been provided below.
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FTC Disclosure: What on Earth Books provided Beantown LLC with one (1) sample copy of Absolutely Everything for review purposes. This writer’s opinion is 100% his own and is not a paid product ambassador.
All photographs are the copyrighted property of Beantown LLC and/or What on Earth Books © 2018.