Giants of Land, Sea & Air: Past & Present (1986) is a children’s book from the Sierra Club by artist David Peters. It is currently out of print, although copies are not difficult to find. Each page features, as the title suggests, some of earth’s largest land, sea and air creatures, extinct and living, with humans shown for scale. Each creature gets a few paragraphs of description plus its Latin name and taxonomic information.
Peters’ art is spectacular. His creatures look extremely real, and his paintings often feel almost like photographs. The art for this book could not be better or more fitting. Peters’ humans are always the same size, and it’s nothing short of magnificent when the brachiosaurus or the blue whale crowds the pages and dwarfs them (the blue whale is stretched over seven pages!).
Giants of Land, Sea & Air: Past & Present is a large book. It’s only 73 pages long, but it’s over 13 inches tall and almost ten inches across. This is all to the good, as all the page space is helpful in highlighting just how big some of these creatures were (or are).
When I was a child, I thought Giants of Land, Sea & Air: Past & Present was just about the neatest book ever. I still feel that way. It’s a brilliant idea and an amazing book.