For a school report, Charlie and his stuffed kiwi travel in time to learn why a kiwi is so unlike other birds.
With Kiwi leading the way, Charlie goes back to 1860 to meet his five-times-great-grandfather, Charles. The three then journey to the New Zealand of 30 million years ago to see the early kiwi’s world, then to 150 million years ago to see dinosaurs with feathers. From then, they go slowly forward in time to the point when the first true bird developed before returning to their respective times. The straightforward story line demonstrates the theory of evolution as the process of a series of small changes over generations, each of which led to ever more successful reproduction. Reynolds’ cheerful cartoon-y figures think in speech bubbles; they share space with the narrative text, which is told with humor, plentiful dialogue, font sizes that vary for emphasis and attention to word choice. All this is set on generous white space, inviting and accessible to middle-grade readers and younger listeners. Produced in conjunction with a project and traveling exhibit developed by the New York Hall of Science and Reynolds’ FableVision studio, an animated bilingual (Spanish and English) version of the title is available on the exhibit website.
With appealing child and animal characters, a touch of fantasy and an adventurous narrative arc, this conveys an important scientific concept in a child-friendly package. (Informational picture book. 5-9)