Monday, September 17, 2012

A Street Through Time - a review

Millard, Anne. 2012. A Street Through Time: A 12,000-Year Walk Through History. New York: DK. Illustrated by Steve Noon.

Though it was first published in 1998, this is the first time that I've seen A Street Through Time: A 12,000-Year Walk Through History, and now that I've seen it, I wonder why DK waited so long to issue a revised edition.

A Street Through Time recounts the entire history of Western Civilization through a cross-section view of a single street along a river.  From the "Stone Age" through "The street today," double spread illustrations show a changing street through each major period of Western history. Measuring roughly 12" x 10", this is an over-sized book so packed full of information that it could take days to absorb everything.

The illustrations are replete with detailed  figures engaged from every walk of life engaged in every manner of activity. Because there is so much detail, important activities or information are enlarged with explanation in the white space margins, as in this example from "Iron Age (600BCE),"

After the warriors and the priests, the blacksmith is the most important man in the village.
The accompanying illustration may be found in smaller scale within the street's cross-section, offering the reader the opportunity to hunt (Where's Waldo-style) and find the highlighted people within the larger picture.  To add fun, a "time traveler" character is included on each spread.

It does not take a keen eye to see that the general landscape and the placement of important town features (places of worship, security and commerce or trade) change little over 12,000 years.  Modern buildings are often located in the exact same place as those from hundreds or even thousands of years earlier.  Churches are enlarged, amphitheaters decay, buildings are expanded and subdivided, but much remains from earlier days.

This is a fascinating way to look at history, and will make conceptual sense to children who are intensely familiar with their own streets.

I can't say that I know the proper audience for this book, but I loved it. The publisher suggests ages 10 and up, though I suspect some younger children will find it intriguing as well.

Includes prefatory information, contents, timeline, glossary, index, credits. One complaint - the descriptive phrases embedded within the illustrations are, given the small size and great detail of the artwork, extremely difficult to see. offers its "Look Inside!" feature for A Street Through Time. Check it out.

It's Nonfiction Monday. Today's roundup is at Wrapped in Foil.


  1. Oh my! This one book could act as a great resource for a year's worth of literacy lesson plan activities. The fact that there's a time traveler, with his time traveling machine will appeal to the boys in our program. Fun one!

  2. This sounds wonderful! I look forward to introducing it to my students.


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