“This is our Grandmother Fish. She lived a long, long, time ago. She could wiggle and swim fast. Can you wiggle?” I cannot recommend this book more… A kid’s level story of our evolutionary history that’s all at once fun, interactive, and very scientifically accurate it’s such to be a hit with little evolutionary biologists. And it even has more detailed information about our evolutionary phylogeny at the end for more curious little ones or curious parents! - - Linnea
— From Staff Picks by Linnea
Where did we come from?
It's a simple question, but not so simple an answer to explain—especially to young children. Charles Darwin's theory of common descent no longer needs to be a scientific mystery to inquisitive young readers. Meet Grandmother Fish.
Told in an engaging call and response text where a child can wiggle like a fish or hoot like an ape and brought to life by vibrant artwork, Grandmother Fish takes children and adults through the history of life on our planet and explains how we are all connected.
The book also includes comprehensive backmatter, including:
- An elaborate illustration of the evolutionary tree of life
- Helpful science notes for parents
- How to explain natural selection to a child
"This groundbreaking volume makes the complex theory of evolution accessible to young children. . . . a truly inclusive work. The words and illustrations work beautifully together, showcasing the abilities of our ancestors and asking readers and listeners if they can do these same actions. . . . Exemplary back matter includes a colorful, clearly labeled double-page diagram titled 'Our Evolutionary Family Tree,' which is excellent for close examination and discussion; examples of how to explain concepts of evolution to children; and suggestions for correcting common misunderstandings. VERDICT This selection can be revisited again and again as students refine their understanding of evolution. Highly recommended for homes, schools, and libraries." —School Library Journal
"With simple text and vibrant, cheerful illustrations, this picture book offers a lively, accessible introduction to the theory of evolution to younger children. Opening with Grandmother Fish, who 'lived a long, long, long, long, long time ago' and could wiggle and chomp, the text continues with direct-address questions ('Can you wiggle?'), which encourage animated read-alouds and active participation, as well as bold-type key terms. Grandmother Fish had many 'grandchildren,' like Grandmother Reptile, who could wiggle, chomp, and crawl . . . and breathe air. In similar fashion, readers progressively meet Grandmother Mammal, Grandmother Ape, and, eventually, Grandmother Human (who could walk and talk), whose grandchildren can do all that and more. The enthusiastic narrator then says, 'I see one of them right here!' and the accompanying illustration depicts a diverse group of smiling kids and adults. Though this is a complicated topic, the simplified presentation, cumulative format, and scrutiny-inviting visuals nicely illustrate evolutionary connections and provide a great starting point for further discussions. Back matter, geared toward adults, offers information on the book’s content and suggestions to help further explain concepts." —Booklist
"A dynamite job . . . gorgeously illustrated . . . Grandmother Fish is a fun way to start children down a path of scientific literacy and, what's more, can help instill in them a vital sense of connection with the living world." —NPR
"Another GeekMom sent this to me and I fell in love. It is a wonderful, simple, beautiful introduction to evolution for young children. ... Gorgeous contribution to science education and understanding!" —GeekMom
"A lovely contribution to scientific literacy." —Steven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works and professor of psychology (Harvard University)
“Much needed!” —David Sloan Wilson, editor-in-chief of Evolution: This View of Life
“When my 5-year-old daughter asked, 'Who was the first person, and how was he or she borned?' I struggled to explain. Then I got Grandmother Fish, read it to her, and she loved it. This book fills a great need for parents, and answers a question many kids wonder about.” —Jonathan Haidt, New York University, author of The Righteous Mind
"I’m extremely impressed by the simplicity of this clever, beautiful, charming project. I’ll be first in line to get Grandmother Fish for my own little daughter!” —Daniel Loxton, editor of Junior Skeptic magazine, author of the national award-winning children’s book Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be
“Grandmother Fish evokes a sense of profound (and playful) connection to our deep time ancestors that ignites the imagination of all ages!” —Jennifer Morgan, author, president of Deep Time Journey Network