A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Kids can be encouraged to think about similarities between the creation stories in The Encyclopedia of Early Earth and those of their own culture or religion; older kids can look for parallels to classic mythologies such as Homer's Odyssey. Some aspects of daily life for people in arctic climates are realistic but should be taken with a grain of salt in this imagining of Earth's history.
All the stories that the main character tells, or in some cases is told, are fables, fairy tales, or parables that can teach something about the human condition, from "true love conquers all" to "think before you speak" and everything in-between.
Positive Role Models
The storyteller is brave, resourceful, and loyal. Sibling gods Kid and Kiddo sometimes bicker but love each other and care about the world of humans and individuals who struggle. The girl from the South Pole's character isn't well developed, but she's described as clever and shown to be loyal and self-sufficient. Adults run the gamut from capricious gods to venerable elders, from egomaniacal rulers to devoted sisters.
Violence & Scariness
All illustrations with violent or scary content are stylized and not gory: Blood is occasionally shown as red lines of varying widths. The aftermath of a battle shows small-scale bodies with arrows coming out of them. One depiction of monsters rising from a void are slightly scary and again highly stylized, with little detail or realism. Other instances of violence are stylized and without realism, in a fairy-tale context, such as an old lady who slays a giant and drags his severed head back to her village or a Cain-and-Abel-type depiction of the first murder. A type of animal is treated cruelly before it's eaten.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A half-dozen or so panels depict nudity, both male and female. The nudity is anatomically correct, except for the lack of pubic hair. A couple is shown kissing on the cheek, and people's desire to kiss and have children is mentioned a couple times. A couple of panels show adults lying down and embracing. The excitement of mating is mentioned via a description of an imagined bird.
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"He's a p---y" is used once as name-calling.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In one society the storyteller visits, adults drink ale at a banquet. Once the storyteller thinks he may have had too much ale. It's mentioned once that some adults like to drink and gamble. A medicine man can prepare a sacred brew that causes "out-of-body experiences."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is a lyrical and beautifully illustrated graphic novel with many stories within the story that a wide range of kids will enjoy. Formatted as an illustrated history of advanced civilizations long before the Permian era, humans interact with monsters, gods, and each other in tales that parallel many mythologies, from Homer and the Bible to Shel Silverstein. Fairy-tale violence is occasional, highly stylized, and not gory, though it's clear what's going on (for example, an old lady dragging a giant's severed head). Several panels show both male and female nudity, which is incidental and not mentioned in the captions or narration and is anatomically correct except for the lack of pubic hair. The only crude language occurs when a man refers to his brother as a "p---y."
Is It Any Good?
Grand in scope yet emotionally intimate, this book provides a great framework for thinking about our place in the world, the nature of love, the difference between right and wrong, and so much more. As with most great mythology, the stories are satisfying, yet leave a lot to the imagination, thanks to carefully omitted extraneous detail. Kids will root for the story teller, recognize themselves in Kid and Kiddo, and enjoy exploring the vivid details in the richly imagined early Earth history. The book stays with you long after you've finished and is a joy and a pleasure to revisit time and time again.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.