As the author himself admits, the title is perhaps a slight exaggeration but the book is a gallop through a history of the world. The book, published by What On Earth Books, is available as a hard copy with superb illustrations but I’ve been listening to the brand new audio book. I confess to some reluctance to do this (I much prefer to read books than listen to them.) but actually it’s been an enjoyable time.
Christopher Lloyd, the author, has turned narrator and he’s brilliant at it. There’s plenty of expression and wry humour to keep the interest of adults as well as children. And the little bit of music between chapters gives a pause long enough to wriggle into a more comfortable position or to stop the recording without any fear of losing either the end of one, or the beginning of another, chapter.
The book tells a history of the world from the beginnings of the universe to, well, now. The audiobook captures the passing of time very well and certainly brought home to me how far removed modern society is from the start of the world. Christopher Lloyd uses the metaphor of a day to demonstrate this and, whilst it’s not an original one, it works well for his younger listeners.
There’s only one thing I’d take issue with and that’s the intended audience. The marketing material I received suggested that the audio book is ideal for 9-11 year olds. I think many children of that age might struggle to focus on, if not to comprehend, the spoken book. Christopher Lloyd’s vocabulary is sophisticated and the structure has nods backwards and forwards meaning that good concentration skills are necessary. In the printed format the illustrations add another layer of explanation but here the spoken word is all.
However, there will undoubtedly be children in the suggested age group who devour this as well as teenagers and adults who find it interesting. Christopher Lloyd’s style as a writer and a speaker is accessible and entertaining and he never talks down to anyone regardless of age. I think probably the way forward is to buy a printed version of the book, complete with illustrations, to go along with this new audio book.