DARWIN'S TREE OF LIFE by Michael Bright
Kirkus Star


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 8 - 12
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Both an introduction to Darwinian concepts and an exploration of the Earth’s life.

Even before explanations of natural selection and species origin, there is a helpful “Geological Time Chart” that explains eon, era, period, and epoch. Following these, double-page spreads show examples of animals, plants, and protists (which are neither) both extant and extinct on the branches of a tree that begins with one-celled organisms and moves into and beyond the category called “Skillful Mammals.” The illustrations and layout are spectacular. Stylized animals and plants are solid blocks of color against gradated blue backgrounds. Each spread is headed in sinuous display type; a vibrantly hued tree branch snakes across the page, creating spaces for flora and fauna and fascinating facts about them. Who knew that tardigrades can live for 30 years without eating? And how sly to note that both rats and humans have conquered the world with their generalized diets. The graceful, accessible text respects its readers. Early on, it asserts that “the first living things were simple cells, which were different from non-living things because they could make copies of themselves.” Words not defined within the text are captured in an appropriate glossary. There are several references to climate change, the first noting how green plants cooled the planet about 450 million years ago. The text strikes an excellent balance between upholding scientific research and noting its limits as well as its ongoing, self-correcting, nature.

Darwin would approve. (index) (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-62371-919-7
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2019