The Story of Life Book Review

Children have a keen interest in the world around them. One of the first questions they ask about it is how it all came about – where do people come from? and when did Dinosaurs live? The Story of Life starts 4.5 billion years ago and over 40 illustrated pages, hit all the high points in a surprisingly detailed, short narrative. It’s just perfect for little children, who love learning the names of things “black smokers,trilobite, Tiktaalik, Brachiosaurus, Ichthyosaur, Archaeopteryx, meteorite”.

It is a brilliant bedtime story book for younger children, introducing complex concepts in a narrative that is compact, fun and funny to read over about 20 minutes. It is also an excellent learning tool and each page lends itself to insert some great discussions – just make sure you’ve done your homework too! (We highly recommend a listen to The Big History lectures.)

Product Information

Price: RRP £12.99

Hardback only, paperback available for pre-order, release date 2 March 2017.

Retailer: Amazon+

About Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Frances Lincoln Publishers is based in Campden, London and was founded in 1977 by Frances Lincoln. The publishers started publishing children’s books in 1983 and their children’s books are well-known for their high quality, beautifully illustrated books.

Frances Lincoln died in 2001 and the company was taken over by her husband. It was acquired by Quarto, an international publishing house, in 2011. Frances Lincoln Publishers have 40 employees, publishes more than 50 books a year with a turn over of around £6 million.*

About Catherine Barr (Author), Steve Williams (Author)

We had the great pleasure of meeting Catherine Barr and Steve Williams at a Story of Life children’s workshop in Lyme Regis during the 2016 Fossil Festival. Passionate, knowledgeable and engaging, their enthusiasm for teaching young children about evolution is clear and infectious.

About the author from the book jacket:

“Catherine Barr studied Ecology at Leeds University and trained as a journalist. She worked at Greenpeace International for seven years as a wildlife and forestry campaigner and has a long-running interest in environmental issues. While working as an editor at the Natural History Museum, she researched and wrote two major summer exhibitions: Dinosaurs of the Gobi Desert and Myths and Monsters. She is now a partner in communications company bwa design. She lives on a hill near Hay-on-Wye in Herefordshire with her partner and two daughters.

Steve Williams is a chartered biologist with a degree in Marine Biology and Applied Zoology from the University of Wales. His lifelong love of wildlife was further inspired by eight years at sea, after which he trained as a teacher, and now teaches science in a rural comprehensive school in Wales. He is a keen beekeeper and astronomer, living beneath the dark skies of Hay-on-Wye with his wife and two daughters.

Amy Husband studied Graphic Art at Liverpool School of Art. Her first picture book, Dear Miss, was winner of the Cambridgeshire Children’s Picture Book Award in 2010. Amy lives in York with her partner, working in a studio with views of York Minster. The Story of Life is her first book for Frances Lincoln.”


It is large hardback book with beautiful illustrations and engaging text that tells the story of evolution from the start of the planet in a way that children between the ages of 4 – 6 can understand and enjoy.

  • Narrative non-fiction for children
  • Target age range: 4 – 7 year olds
  • Target gender: Unisex/gender neutral
  • Target audience: Young children learning about evolution for the first time.

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Environment & People

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£12 for a children’s book is not a budget choice, but The Story of Life is a 5.5 billion year history lesson presented in a way that will entice young minds, yet despite the gross simplification needed, it remains an accurate account of the evolution of life as we know it. It is based on the latest scientific theories and serves up much more than a single 20 minute read through.

It’s one of those books that end up raising more questions than it answers – in the best way possible. Expect your child to learn new things, but be prepared for the 101 questions that will follow. A book that encourages curiosity and creativity, it comes with the power to unlock young minds to ask a whole new set of questions – definitely priceless.


Product dimensions: 25.1 x 1.3 x 28.3 cm
Materials: Paper
Release date: 5 March 2015
Pages: 40 pages
Available formats: Hardback
Publisher: Frances Lincoln
Language: English
Key Stage: KS1
ISBN: 1847804853


This is not your standard fare children’s book. It takes an immensely complex history stretching over 5.5 billion years and converts it into a fascinating story simple enough for a 5-year old to understand and appreciate without loosing any relevance or factual accuracy. An incredible feat of genius.

Highly recommended.

The review is based on the The Story of Life (hardback copy) purchased in April 2016. Click to read more about our eco icons and access icons used in this review. This article was first published on 15 May 2016.

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