The Greatest Show on Earth: The 4.6 Billion Year Story of Life on our Planet

Publisher: Puffin

Rod the Roach and his troupe of cockroach performers (what better animals to tell the story than the insects known to be the best at surviving?) are about to perform the Greatest Show on Earth from their Shoebox Theatre in the middle of a rubbish dump – and it’s a pretty great show.

Taking us from the birth of Earth, 4.6 billion years ago, to the present day, Rod and his friends (Pierre, Cedric, Gary, Malia, Alonzo, Brunhilda and Edna – plus Anton, Anatole and Annette operating the Tape Measure of Time) dazzle us with a mix of puppetry, collage and recycled dump materials.

From the world of the microbes, where algae converted the earth’s atmosphere from carbon dioxide to oxygen, to the Age of Fish and the Rise of the Reptiles, Rod explains how Earth has evolved and changed over millennia to be able to support life as we know it today.

Mini Grey’s first nonfiction book is an absolute triumph of beauty and usefulness. Using the brilliant concept of a theatrical show situated in a shoebox theatre, Grey shows readers the timeline at the bottom of the “theatre” with fact panels on left and right sides, and the main “show” in the middle where the cockroach actors give us the main info for each period. The information is interesting and often funny, and there’s a brilliant glossary at the back of the book to clarify any tricky terms.

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