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Children's Nonfiction General

When Planet Earth Was New

A Short History of Our Planet’s Long Journey

by (author) James Gladstone

illustrated by Katherine Diemert

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Mar 2023
General, Environmental Science & Ecosystems, Prehistoric, Biology
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 8
  • Grade: p to 5


The story of planet Earth’s evolution, from 4.5 billion years ago to today

It has taken billions of years for Earth to become the planet it is today. When Planet Earth Was New looks back to the very beginning, using a poetic approach grounded in scientific fact to give an overview of how the planet has changed over time: from hot lava to the formation of oceans to the evolution of living things in water and on land. The book also includes the relatively recent evolution of humans—who are just a tiny speck in the sweep of Earth’s history.

Now available in paperback, this broad look at the Earth is designed to inspire awe and inquiry. With STEM connections to biology, geology, evolution, and more, it is a springboard for discovery, discussion, and research. A striking design with full-spread, digitally enhanced watercolor art gives the book a rich, atmospheric feel. Back matter includes informational notes about each spread, as well as sources, an author’s note, and a glossary.

About the authors

JAMES GLADSTONE is an author of picture books for children, including When Planet Earth Was New, Earthrise, and Turtle Pond, which won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction. James’ latest book, Journey Around the Sun, follows Halley’s Comet on its travels through the ages. James lives in Toronto, Ontario.


James Gladstone's profile page

Katherine Diemert lives with her grumpy cat in Toronto, Ontario. A graduate of Sheridan College’s Bachelor of Illustration program, she creates images for editorial and interactive media. She uses a combination of analog and digital tools to create her work, which has been included in several shows and garnered awards. She especially loved drawing the weird and wonderful creatures in this book. When Planet Earth Was New is Katherine’s first picture book.

Katherine Diemert's profile page


  • Short-listed, Canadian Children's Book Centre Norma Fleck Award
  • Short-listed, Quill and Quire's Kids Books of the Year
  • Short-listed, K-3 Shining Willow
  • Short-listed, Norma Fleck Award
  • Short-listed, 2018 ABA/NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12
  • Commended, Ontario Library Association Best Bet

Editorial Reviews

"Evocative...bold...poetic...will spark readers' imaginings of a nascent Earth."

Publishers Weekly

"Will start a discussion of the Earth's development and future and spark interest in biology, geology, and evolutionary connections."

School Library Connection

"Beautiful and thought-provoking, this nonfiction picture book has a great deal to offer."


"This book is beautiful. It provides a great entry point to discussing evolution and the history of our planet, and it serves as a good launching point for further research."

Picture Book Power

"Fusing art and science... Striking, otherworldly illustrations from Katherine Diemert show the constantly evolving landscapes in fantasy-rich hues in this beautifully unique journey through space and time."

Foreword Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

"Striking, slightly surreal illustrations complement the prose and offer much to contemplate...a fine addition to science collections."

School Library Journal

"Diemert's images are allusive and striking... A dramatic demonstration of geologic time for thoughtful readers and listeners."

Kirkus Reviews

"When Planet Earth Was New works well on two levels: as a picture book with appeal for curious visual learners, there is plenty of striking detail, color and animation. Secondly, the extra science facts will satisfy stronger readers."

Canadian Review of Materials

"This perfect union of words and images telling the story of their awesome planet will mesmerize children and adults alike."

Shelf Awareness

"An epic retelling of our planet's origin story... When Planet Earth Was New nails the sense of majesty and mystery that ought to accompany any look at the planet's beginnings."

Quill & Quire

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