The History of the World in 100 Animals


Simon Barnes explains The History of the World in 100 Animals. We see how animals’ stories are aligned with human discovery, understanding and experience.

Therefore, we read that when wolves originally visited farms for food in early human history, they were bred to become the dogs we know and love today. Then again, we learn how only 4 species of the 4, 500 varieties of cockroach are troublesome to humans through ‘germs that can make people ill’. Alongside this page, is information of the sixteenth animal selected by Simon Barnes. It’s the panda, where we learn that concerns about the loss of this animal began in the 1950’s. However, it was only when humans began to focus on the loss of food supplies, that panda numbers began their slow recovery.

Alongside animals that exist alongside us in the 21st century, even in depleted numbers, the writer looks at those we have lost, such as the thylacine. This was an Australian marsupial lion, destroyed by sheep farmers, disease and then loss of habitat.

Bookwagon is awed by the depth of information, the anecdotal facts and the determination evident in the writing. What’s more, in this edition of Simon Barnes’ non-fiction book, we can enjoy the empathetic pictures of Frann Preston-Gannon.

We suggest that The History of the World in 100 Animals is an essential addition to non-fiction bookshelves in homes and schools. This is a mighty, comprehensive and inspiring title.

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The History of the World in 100 Animals

Illustrated Edition

Simon Barnes, illustrated by Frann Preston- Gannon

(Simon and Schuster)– hardback

It seems that human life coincides with animals. In fact ‘our life and death‘ is parallel to other species. Therefore, in The History of the World in 100 AnimalsSimon Barnes charts stories of individual species through the ages. This book is a way we might realise  we ‘all exist on Planet Earth’ and need to make ‘things better’.
Alongside evidence of such things as lion footprints discovered in Africa four million years ago, we learn about human and animal relationships. For example, bear bile is collected for medicine, as in Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear. What’s more, bears were baited and ‘trained to dance‘. Then again, canaries were used ‘as alarms’ in coal mines. However, reindeer did not appear in Christmas storiesuntil 1823!
Then again, we learn how animal species compare against humans. For example, ‘bats beat humans’ to radar ‘by several million years’. It seems that horses can travel twice the speed and almost four times the distance of a human.
What’s more, we learn about individual animal relationships with others. Therefore, we read how bumble bees carry pollen, like many others, including ‘flies, butterflies- rodents and even lizards’. 
While the information is succinct, directly organised and clearly researched, Frann Preston- Gannon’s pictures are sympathetic to the book’s style and purpose. Altogether, The History of the World in 100 Animals is a necessary addition to home and school non-fiction shelves.



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