Kun imagines dinosaurs that existed millions of years ago. But they were not the beginning; the Earth is older still. Grahame Baker-Smith takes the reader on a visually dramatic journey from the moment the Earth – the world we live on – was struck by an asteroid to become the planet we know with its satellite moon. The journey is almost unimaginably long and the Earth moves from a world of fire to one of water where the origins of live can emerge; from a planet in the grip of ice to one where life can flourish and continue to evolve – thanks to its core of fire.
This is, perhaps, the most complex of the elements that Baker-Smith tackles and is much less amenable to the coherent narrative that can be seen in his previous books, The Rhythm of the Rain and Wild is the Wind. It is a story that usually demands a tome to explain all the changes. However, in simplifying his story, Baker-Smith also brings it to life. His colour saturated images fill every spread alive with drama, movement, fire, space. His figures are dwarfed not just by the natural world of mountains and oceans, but by the concept of time. However, Baker-Smith prevents his narrative becoming an abstract of history by introducing his two young protagonists, Kun and Solveig. They live far apart, experiencing different aspects of the world, yet connected. It is a simple device to engage the young reader in this extraordinary – and challenging – story. There is nothing cosy as the reader opens the book to an image of a fiery ball whirling in space. We follow its violent evolution to close the back cover where the image of that blue planet floats serenely in its galaxy; as serenely as Solveig watching the Northern Lights in a lake warmed by the earth’s core or Kun feeding the birds who were once dinosaurs. Here is a book to inspire the imagination and lead to further exploration, creating a vivid visual background to other narratives, bringing evolutionary history alive.