Life Story by Virginia Lee Burton

Life Story

A beautifully designed book set up as a play in five acts. The passage of time is shown visually on each page.

Details Life Story

TitleLife Story
Release DateOct 30th, 1989
PublisherHMH Books for Young Readers
GenreChildrens, Picture Books, Science, History, Nonfiction

Reviews Life Story

  • Melody
    I think this is THE best book about evolution and time for little kids. If only I could read it without crying- as Burton brings the focus in and moves inexorably nearer in time to the reader, the intensity ramps up to a point where the brevity and beauty of life is so apparent that it's painful. An exquisite and breathtaking book.
  • Peter
    When I was in 3rd grade I took this book out of my elementary school library on a continual basis. I must have had it all year. At the end of the school year the librarian gave me the book, and I still have it.Thirty something years later I bought a new hardcover edition of the book for my son. Who at just two years old is still too young to know exactly what is going on. But from looking at the early illustrations he now can say "Dinosaur" , and...
  • Katie Fitzgerald
    Life Story is Virginia Lee Burton's seventh and final book, published in 1962. In a prologue and five acts, Burton traces the story of life on earth, beginning with the birth of the sun and the formation of our planet, and highlighting major periods of the paleozoic, mesozoic, cenozoic, and recent eras, before concluding with a section on the seasons of the year and times of the day. Illustrated with full-color paintings and black-and-white diagr...
  • Michael Fitzgerald
    A brilliantly conceived book, delivered in Burton's beautiful style. There are so many illustrations that are just perfect - worthy of framing. The use of color is exceptional. Many author-illustrators could have done this kind of book, but I'm glad it was Burton who actually took on the task. This was her final book, and it took her eight years to complete. I like that it offers three age suggestions: To Look At: 4-6; To Read Aloud: 6-10; To Rea...
  • Morgan
    A beautiful book that traces history from the birth of our sun to the present moment, illustrating the creation of the earth and it's minerals, through the evolution of life and human civilization. Burton frames her story as one of many—a planet orbiting a star out of billions of stars in trillions of galaxies, and that the species and places she highlights are also specific amongst a plethora of other species and places. There are of course so...
  • Earl
    Life Story is beautiful! The whole world is literally a stage as the book traces the history of life on Earth- from the rocks, plants, animals to humans. I just loved how it focused first in the incredible vastness of space and into her own life and eventually to the reader with these words:And now it is your Life Storyand it is you who plays the leading role.The stage is set, the time is now, and the place wherever you are.Each passing second is...
  • Jeff Lewonczyk
    Where has this book been all my life? I'm a fan of some of Burton's more well-known picture books (Mike Mulligan, The Little House), but stumbling on this at the gift shop of the New York Botanical Garden was like opening a door in my mind to a secret room I had never even imagined. The book is a psychedelic/outsider-art procession through the natural history of the earth, gaining in detail and clarity as it cascades from the creation of the univ...
  • Jennifer Eckert
    This book tells the story of life, from the beginning of our planet to now. It was originally written in the 1960's and updated in the 1990's. So, the scientific information isn't *completely* up to date, but it's still a beautiful and valuable book. The illustrations are intriguing and unique; every page turn is a delight. The poetry beautifully conveys the information in a way that makes one think of Carl Sagan's writing. A fantastic book to sh...
  • ABC
    This is an illustrated history of everything starting from the sun until now. I found it very interesting, although I am not sure how outdated it is. I read it out loud to my six year old, and he didn't get anything out of it. He is more of a Magic School Bus type kid. This book is too textbooky for him.
  • Jason
    The theory of evolution has never been so wonderfully presented as in this beautiful book by Virginia Lee Burton. It is a joy to read and the illustrations can be explored and appreciated for a lifetime!
  • Scott
    A favorite book in childhood. I haven't read it in years.
  • Olivia
    This book is beautifully illustrated. I loved looking at the pictures.
  • Ryan Moulton
    There are a lot of wasted words here framing everything as a "stage" and "acts" which for my kids are more foreign than the concepts from natural history. They clutter up both the words and the art. The illustrations vary in quality. Lots of species are portrayed as stick figures and don't spark the imagination.The idea of asymptotically approaching the present moment is a good one, but not well executed, and the awkwardness of zeroing in on a pa...
  • Cheryl
    I am a big fan of Virginia Lee Burton, and the cover of this book is so appealing, and it got great reviews. BUT. I couldn't make it through the book. I tried half a dozen times. It's thick. I'm sure it was amazing in the 1960's to have such a nicely illustrated non-fiction picture book. But it did not pull me in to a subject I don't love. Ah well.
  • Amie
    I rated this low because it totally ignores the story of creation in the bible. Also, I found it hilarious when referring to the origin of the moon that it states that no one was here at the time so we don't know and then goes on to describe the origins of the earth as though it is fact, although no one was there as well....besides God. I read it to myself and decided that one day when my kids are much older, I will share this information with th...
  • Jackie B. - Death by Tsundoku
    Wow. I am so glad that I decided to read the complete works of Virginia Lee Burton! This book is magnificent.This book tells the story of Earth in 5 "Acts" - Paleozoic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic, Recent Life, and Most Recent Life. The first three acts, plus a prologue describe the creation of earth and evolution of life. You see the plants and animals evolve. You learn how to pronounce their names. There is a running timeline that shows how much time is...
  • Jim Erekson
    This book blew me away when I first read it. It's approach to natural history and evolution is unapologetic and embraces the beauty of natural history. It does so through a kind of anthropomorphism or anthropocentrism (in the device of a theater) that is easy to criticize, but which in this case seems like an interesting technique to bring interest to the lifeless or non-human eras of the world's development. I have owned several copies in the pa...
  • Bradford Smith
    I had this book with me constantly in 3rd grade, 1969 - 1970. my friends always asked me what was the big deal with this book, "why do you always have it...aren't you sick of it"? No! there's something about it besides the obvious high quality paintings...maybe the use of color to exemplify what the earth must of looked like x million years ago? The page where the plants have started to stand vertically on their own is my favorite; the color is e...
  • Steven McKay
    I remember reading this at the library, possibly even just looking at the pictures before I could read. This would place me at the library somewhere between 1968 and 1972. Perhaps I took it home, I think I read it over and over. And then I didn't see it for over 40 years, but I never forgot it. I couldn't remember the title or author, but I kept my eyes open for it. Finally a blog about dinosaur books identified it for me, and I was able to add i...
  • Marcie
    My girls loved this one. This amazing book puts history in a linear time line. It is written and illustrated as a play in five acts plus prologue and epilogue. Life Story was written in 1962 so some of the science is outdated, but I thought it was a good introduction to the formation of our planet and the evolution of life forms.Prologue: Our galaxy, planets, types of rockAct 1 Paleozoic Era: Beginning lifeforms, earth's evolving climateAct 2 Mes...
  • Phil Smith
    I remember checking this book out of the elementary school library perhaps twenty times. It tells the story of the history of the Earth as a play in several acts composed of scenes (eras and epochs). Needless to say, this book had a huge impact on the way I think about time and history, and it holds an honored place in my library. I recommend this book to kids, even if the folk art may turn them off at first. It is beautifully illustrated, and Bu...
  • Christine Turner
    Earth takes center stage in this updated version of Virginia Lee Burton's 1962 classic Life Story . Told through five acts, Burton's art and text tell the history of earth from beginning to present day. Readers will gain an in-depth understanding of the planet's history and their leading roles in it today. The book has been updated with cutting-edge science, including up-to-the-minute information on fossil records and the geologic principles. We ...
  • Doug
    What is it about this book?? Reading through the comments, I've seen others who checked this book out from a library repeatedly as a child. That's exactly what I did, over and over, as a nine-year-old. It was decades later, having forgotten title and author, that i stumbled across it again. Unlike many childhood favorites, this book retained its magic upon re-reading forty years later. It is captivating to child readers, and is a great pathway to...
  • Blake
    This book is marvelous! I've read only the first few pages but I can already tell that it is a perfect book to help share and reinforce Montessori's first three Great Lessons. Not only that, but it can inspire ideas for lessons. I definitely want to share this with my class and make it a book that we work with regularly.
  • Mark
    Originally released in 1962, the Life Story of our earth is laid out by Burton (Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel) as a play in five acts. I had never seen this book until recently, but it’s a gem. This beautifully illustrated book has been updated to reflect the latest in scientific research.
  • Heather
    34 months - I found this to be an informative but boring read. O wasn't overly interested either, maybe an age thing, last summer she was really into dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures and no doubt she will be again. I kept asking her if she wanted me to stop reading but she was determined to make it through to the end. We made it but I think we'll leave this one for another time.
  • Ms Threlkeld
    A fascinating book for young and old alike. Feeling pretty smart after reading it; now I have a stronger sense of how life on this planet has changed.
  • Kate
    Love this book: the story of life from trilobites to domestic animals, the galaxy to your backyard.
  • Rebecca
    If you have not read this book, you should. Do not let the fact that it's a children's book dissuade you.
  • Brook
    How could it not be great? What an unique and interesting book. I'll have to locate a copy, this should still be in print.