Reviews /

The Greatest Show on Earth

Authored by Mini Grey
Illustrated by Mini Grey
Published by Penguin Random House

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This is quite simply a brilliant book – a narrative of our Earth which is enticing, exciting and hugely informative.

This is Mini Grey’s first non-fiction book which guides the reader through the chronological story of Earth over 4.6 billion years. It is presented as a stage performance. Our cast are insects. Centre stage, across consecutive double page spreads is a chronological history of our planet, providing the action and breaking down the history of time. Additional information on each of the double page spreads is offered to the reader in side panels – the theatre’s wings, and in the orchestra pit, we have the Tape Measure of Time – our timeline through this journey.

Every part of every page is carefully designed and irresistible. The end papers are presented as the animal soup of life. This is a detailed scientific information book, but as we would expect, the information is presented with humour. The characters are comical. The language is witty. But the reader is given much to ponder, and this story ends on a cautionary note. This is Mini Grey’s signature style – to respect and challenge her readers.

This is a book which demands close inspection and repeated readings. There is so much here for children and adults to pore over, enjoy and discuss. No space is wasted, and the attention to detail is wonderful. The Greatest Show on Earth is an alternative to the traditional encyclopaedia I read when I was growing up. I think every class will both want and should have a copy, but you will need to set up a waiting list for the borrowers!

You can listen to Mini Grey talking to Nikki Gamble about The Greatest Show on Earth in this episode of In the Reading Corner: