Review: The Humans

This absolutely stunning marvel of a book is a MUST have for any primary school library shelves, but I have no doubt it will not remain on the shelves for long as eager young minds will definitely want to get themselves poring over the fascinating words and illustrations for hours of informative entertainment …


This book showcases the greatest achievements of ancient civilisations, peoples and iconic figures from history. From the Nubians to the Native Americans, and the Akkadians to the Aztecs, our predecessors have pioneered a plethora of wonderful and wacky inventions, technologies and practices. They’ve constructed monumental buildings and sprawling cities, created languages, modes of transport, art, medicines, music, stories, myths and more.

Let’s delve into the past and discover what humankind accomplished in the centuries and millennia since the first civilisations were formed …

I must admit I am somewhat in awe of the quality of this book. It is a large, very tactile, hardback whose front cover immediately captured my interest as did the stamped images on the bright yellow end-papers which I immediately wanted to start matching to the associated ancient civilisations!

The Humans starts with some introductory pages tracing human evolution, showing a map of homo sapiens movement throughout the world and a definition of the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. This gives context for the ancient civilisations explored …

and what an incredibly diverse range of civilisations are explored, extending through all continents from Africa to The Americas. The contents page directs readers to each civilisation which is usually included on either a single or double page spread although a few like The Egyptians, The Sumerians, The Ancient Chinese, The Ancient Greeks, The Native Americans and The Romans have slightly more coverage. I also really liked that each continent had its own introduction, giving information about the timeline of human evolution for that continent. It can be really difficult for children to place events in history so this, along with the timeline at the end of the book, is really helpful.

Each page of this book gives lots of clearly explained, fascinating facts interspersed with truly wonderful illustrations and maps which complement each other perfectly, and create a brilliantly engaging layout, a real feast for eyes and mind. There is also a Where in the World? globe which places each ancient civilisation which I found really useful. The layout makes this an endlessly engaging book which is easy to follow. I have no idea how the author makes decisions as to what to include, but I absolutely loved the scope of the information included from the large scale (such as The Great Wall of China) to the minutiae (such as the uses of umbrellas).

Below is an example page which demonstrates perfectly why this book will be loved by children who will learn many interesting and fascinating facts, after they can draw their eyes away from the brilliant illustrations. I love the fusion of text and images and, as a teacher who loves double-page spreads to showcase children’s work, this is a perfect example of how to do it!

This book is perfect for primary school children as it gives a brilliant introduction to many of the civilisations covered in the curriculum in an amazingly appealing format as well as introducing children, and adults, to less well known ancient civilisations. Simply stunning!

Thank you to Charlie and Little Tiger for an early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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