Read Grandmother Fish: A Child's First Book of Evolution by Jonathan Tweet Karen Lewis Online


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 byWhere 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...

Title : Grandmother Fish: A Child's First Book of Evolution
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781250113238
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 40 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Grandmother Fish: A Child's First Book of Evolution Reviews

  • Jonathan Tweet
    2019-02-16 17:18

    I wrote it. I think it's great.

  • Betsy
    2019-02-17 20:10

    Travel back with me through the Earth’s history, back into the farthest reaches of time when the sand we walk today was still rock and the oceans of an entirely salination. Back back back we go to, oh about 13 years ago, I’d say. I was a library grad student, and had just come to the shocking realization that the children’s literature class I’d taken on a lark might actually yield a career of some sort. We were learning the finer points of book reviewing (hat tip to K.T. Horning’s From Cover to Cover there) and to hone our skills each of us was handed a brand new children’s book, ready for review. I was handedOur Family Tree: An Evolution Story by Lisa Westberg Peters, illustrated by Lauren Stringer. It was good, so I came up with some kind of a review. It was, now that I think about it, the very first children’s book review I ever wrote (talk about evolution). And I remember at the time thinking (A) How great it was to read a picture book on the topic and (B) That with my limited knowledge of the field there were probably loads and loads of books out there about evolution for small children. Fun Fact: There aren’t. Actually, in the thirteen years between then and now I’ve not seen a single evolution themed picture book come out since the Peters/Stringer collaboration. Until now. Because apparently two years before I ran across Our Family Tree author Jonathan Tweet was trying to figure out why there were so few books on the subject on the market. It took him a while, but he finally got his thoughts in order and wrote this book. Worth the wait and possibly the only book we may need on the subject. For a while, anyway.Let’s start with a fish. We’ll call her Grandmother Fish and she lived “a long, long, long, long, long time ago.” She did familiar fishy things like “wiggle” and “chomp”. And then she had ancestors and they turned out to be everything from sharks to ray-finned fish to reptiles. That’s when you meet Grandmother Reptile, who lived “a long, long, long, long time ago.” From reptiles we get to mammals. From mammals to apes. And from apes to humans. And with each successive iteration, they carry with them the traits of their previous forms. Remember how Grandmother Fish could wiggle and chomp? Well, so can every subsequent ancestor, with some additional features as well. The final image in the book shows a wide range of humans and they can do the things mentioned in the book before. Backmatter includes a more complex evolutionary family tree, a note on how to use this book, a portion “Explaining Concepts of Evolution”, a guide “to the Grandmothers, Their Actions, and Their Grandchildren for your own information to help you explain evolution to your child”, and finally a portion on “Correcting Common Errors” (useful for both adults and kids).What are the forbidden topics of children’s literature? Which is to say, what are the topics that could be rendered appropriate for kids but for one reason or another never see the light of day? I can think of a couple off the top of my head, an evolution might be one of them. To say that it’s controversial in this, the 21st century, is a bit odd, but we live in odd times. No doubt the book’s creators have already received their own fair share of hate mail from folks who believe this content is inappropriate for their children. I wouldn’t be too surprised to hear that it ended up on ALA’s Most Challenged list of books in the future. Yet, as I mentioned before, finding ANY book on this subject, particularly on the young end of the scale, is near impossible. I am pleased that this book is filling such a huge gap in our library collections. Now if someone would just do something for the 7-12 year olds . . .When you are simplifying a topic for children, one of the first things you need to figure out from the get-go is how young you want to go. Are you aiming your book at savvy 6-year-olds or bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 3-year-olds? In the case of Grandmother Fish the back-story to the book is that creator Jonathan Tweet was inspired to write it when he couldn’t find a book for his daughter on evolution. We will have to assume that his daughter was on the young end of things since the final product is very clearly geared towards the interactive picture book crowd. Readers are encouraged to wiggle, crawl, breathe, etc. and the words proved capable of interesting both my 2-year-old son and my 5-year-old daughter. One would not know from this book that the author hadn’t penned picture books for kids before. The gentle repetition and clincher of a conclusion suggest otherwise.One problem with turning evolution into picture book fare is the danger of confusing the kids (of any age, really). If you play it that our ancestors were monkeys, then some folks might take you seriously. That’s where the branching of the tree becomes so interesting. Tweet and Lewis try hard to make it clear that though we might call a critter “grandmother” it’s not literally that kind of a thing. The problem is that because the text is so simple, it really does say that each creature had “many kinds of grandchildren.” Explaining to kids that this is a metaphor and not literal . . . well, good luck with that. You may find yourself leaning heavily on the “Correcting Common Errors” page at the end of the book, which aims to correct common misconceptions. There you will find gentle corrections to false statements like “We started as fish” or “Evolution progresses to the human form” or “We descended from one fish or pair of fish, or one early human or pair of early humans.” Of these Common Errors, my favorite was “Evolution only adds traits” since it was followed by the intriguing corrective, “Evolution also take traits away. Whales can’t crawl even though they’re descended from mammals that could.” Let’s talk about the bone structure of the dolphin’s flipper sometime, shall we? The accompanying “Explaining Concepts of Evolution” does a nice job of helping adults break down ideas like “Natural Selection” and “Artificial Selection” and “Descent with Modification” into concepts for young kids. Backmatter-wise, I’d give the book an A+. In terms of the story itself, however, I’m going with a B. After all, it’s not like every parent and educator that reads this book to kids is even going to get to the backmatter. I understand the decisions that led them to say that each "Grandmother" had "grandchildren" but surely there was another way of phrasing it.This isn’t the first crowd-sourced picture book I’ve ever seen, but it may be one of the most successful. The reason is partly because of the subject matter, partly because of the writing, and mostly because of the art. Bad art sinks even the most well-intentioned of picture books out there. Now I don’t know the back-story behind why Tweet paired with illustrator Karen Lewis on this book, but I hope he counts his lucky stars every day for her participation. First and foremost, he got an illustrator who had done books for children before ( Arturo and the Navidad Birds probably being her best known). Second, her combination of watercolors and digital art really causes the pages to pop. The colors in particular are remarkably vibrant. It’s a pleasure to watch them, whether close up for one-on-one readings, or from a distance for groups. Whether on her own or with Tweet’s collaboration, her clear depictions of the evolutionary “tree” is nice and fun. Plus, it’s nice to see some early humans who aren’t your stereotypical white cavemen with clubs, for once. I look at this book and I wonder what its future holds. Will a fair number of public school libraries purchase it? They should. Will parents like Mr. Tweet be able to find it when they wander aimlessly into bookstores and libraries? One can hope. And is it any good? It is. But you only have my word on that one. Still, if great grand numbers of perfect strangers can band together to bring a book to life on a topic crying out for representation on our children’s shelves, you’ve gotta figure the author and illustrator are doing something right. A book that meets and then exceeds expectations, tackling a tricky subject, in a divisive era of our history, to the betterment of all. Not too shabby for a fish.For ages 3-6.

  • Ruthanne Scott
    2019-02-05 19:08

    My almost 8 year old read this to me. It's written on a preschool level but has sections and concepts in it that can easily be elaborated on for older kids. It was helpful for me that it was for younger kids as it gave me a starting-point for discussion. My son really enjoyed talking about the family tree in the back and picked-up how the language "long, long, long, long, long time ago..." versus "long, long time ago...", etc represented a time line. We discussed how the book was for younger kids but was still very interesting to discuss. Great conversation starter.

  • Amanda
    2019-02-01 01:07

    Grandmother Fish is a beautiful book on the broader (and finer) points of Human Evolution. A great great great GREAT introduction to the science of evolution!! And for those of you digitally inclined the book PDF is FREE via the website:

  • Julia
    2019-02-19 22:32

    I would have normally given this book a review of only three stars but most of my complaints in the presentation was answered by the author in the back of his book. As I was complaining to my sister why should we start with a fish upon discussing evolution and that the book should be much older but then again as the author points out a fish is much easier for a child to relate with than bacteria or even perhaps a wormy-type ancestor. The story was very well written and rather simple in its format. Each section was introduced with the name of the group going to be discussed such as fish, reptile, etc. before getting into introducing the "grandma". From there it gave the reader a chance to know what the grandmother could do that was special in a sense and then asked the reader to participate in copying that action if you are one who likes to follow along. From there it described her children and the leading to the next grandmother on the tree. I truly enjoyed the illustrations for they were brightly colored and lent more a focus to the desirable attributes. Although I could argue the looks of hominid I think that in the long run the child reader will be able to easily grasp the similarities and the very subtle differences. Again what sold me the most on this book was the information in the book. There was a large bright tree of evolution with a bit of an introduction to other species in the same group. And then there was a Q&A as well as a let's correct the evolutionary myths. With the simple and easy presented facts it is sure to educate in a fun way a subject that raises so many arguments.

  • Annette
    2019-01-31 17:13

    GRANDMOTHER FISH: A CHILD’S FISH BOOK OF EVOLUTION by Jonathan Tweet explores the concept of evolution using easy to understand examples.The picture book introduces each branch on the tree of life with familiar examples and engages readers through active questioning. The consistent format, colorful illustrations, and predictable approach contribute to the book’s appeal.The end notes include an evolutionary tree of life, science notes for parents, and ideas for explaining natural selection to children.Librarians will find this well-written book to be a useful addition to the primary grade science curriculum. Involve students in exploring a branch of the evolutionary tree of life and create a mural in the library.To learn more about the book and author, go to by Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan on September 6, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

  • K.T. Katzmann
    2019-01-30 00:31

    An engaging simulation of having your children play "Simon Says" with Richard Dawkins.

  • Amyp
    2019-02-07 20:20

    This really fills a niche. Clear explanation of evolution that young children can understand.

  • Edward Sullivan
    2019-02-02 21:21

    An appealing and engaging introduction to a complex subject for younger readers.

  • Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
    2019-02-15 18:33

    Tweet, Jonathan. Grandmother Fish, PICTURE BOOK. Feiwel and Friends, 2015. $17.99. Starting with Grandmother Fish, the reader sees the evolution of various animals from reptiles to mammals, to apes, to humans. Each animal has a very short description of how they can move and function. At the end of the book there is an evolutionary family tree. This is a really well done book. The illustrations are really bright, colorful and detailed and help add substance to the book. It encourages the reader to compare themselves to the various animals to demonstrate if they can breathe, cuddle, crawl, grab, etc. The graphic maps help to show the correlation between the different animals and how they evolved. EL (K-3), EL- ESSENTIAL. Reviewed by Shay, School Librarian

  • Tommie Branscum
    2019-02-14 21:18

    Oddly enough I had a 5th grader ask me about the theory of evolution before this book arrived. The picture book story part of the book is pretty cute and doesn't go very deep into any science or theory. There is a whole section at the back with a lot more science and a note from the author guiding the ADULT or older student to read about the science. I think this is a nice, careful way to present a theory that has both believers and dissenters.

  • Mindy
    2019-01-21 17:24

    Brilliantly written and illustrated. The guides at the end are especially helpful. G and J and I had wonderful and insightful conversations while reading. The author presents evolution in a clear and concise manner that is easily relatable for children, but still factual and not at all "dumbed down."

  • Ms.Gaye
    2019-02-16 18:22

    This book of evolution is just right for ages 3-7.

  • Sarah Gibson
    2019-02-01 19:11

    This is geared toward young children but it confused my five-year-old a bit. Still, the illustrations were pretty and she enjoyed the interactive parts.

  • Tracy Holland
    2019-01-29 19:12

    A friendly, science based, book on evolution.

  • Anna
    2019-02-01 22:12

    Humans did NOT descend from apes.I believe in evolution, but I'm not interested in teaching my child something that simply inaccurate.Humans and apes descended from a common ancestor.

  • Jaime
    2019-02-05 01:21

    What a great way to explain how we (people) got here. I learned a few things about evolution and was reminded of some others. Thank you for writing this one.

  • mg
    2019-02-02 19:34

    I'm pretty torn on this book. On the one hand, the concept is great and the illustrations very captivating. On the other hand, the text seems to be aimed at 2 year-olds? ("[Grandmother fish] could wiggle and swim fast. Can you wiggle? And she had jaws to chomp with. Can you chomp?") Evolution is a crazy complicated subject to get across to kids who are still trying to understand yesterday, today, & tomorrow. The end matter, on the other hand, is really fabulous and would be really great for older kids (Gr. 2 and up).

  • Jo Oehrlein
    2019-02-09 20:18

    Gives a sense of the way evolution happened, showing various branches and what new abilities animals had after the change.This is evolution for preschoolers.

  • Linda
    2019-02-14 19:23

    This marvelous book by Jonathan Tweet is a simple and clear explanation of evolution that will please every teacher or parent who wants to explain the concept. Its complexity is a challenge, but Jonathan Tweet helps us readers by examining steps along the long, long, long, long, long way. First, there is Grandmother Fish who can “wiggle” and “chomp”, and many, many years later arrived Grandmother reptile, who can “wiggle” and “chomp,” too, but also “crawl” and “breathe”. Then we are introduced to her relations, like “cousins bird and dimetrodon” wiggling, chomping, crawling and breathing, and after a lot more years, along comes Grandmother Mammal. I imagine you know some of what is next. If reading aloud, there is a fun interactive part that asks the audience for some interaction, like they're asked to “wiggle” like our Grandmother Fish. The pages are simple pictures of the grandmothers and a few of their relations, all neatly labeled, right down to Grandmother Human. The illustrations by Karen Lewis are bright, colorful and enticing.Backmatter is just enough to help those introducing and explaining. It includes a detailed evolutionary family tree, a note that helps the use of this book, a portion “Explaining Concepts of Evolution”, a guide “to the Grandmothers, Their Actions, and Their Grandchildren for your own information to help you explain evolution to your child”, and last, a portion on “Correcting Common Errors” (useful for both adults and kids).

  • April
    2019-02-06 01:18

    I love it! It's so sweet. It tells the story of evolution in a simple way and in a way that helps us understand how we are connected and related to all life on earth.

  • Barbara
    2019-01-20 19:10

    I have never encountered a book on evolution pitched to young readers so this one was a neat surprise since it fills a void but also does so in relatable fashion. Plus, the text encourages readers to interact with its lines, thus, prompting them to wiggle, chomp, crawl, breathe, squeak, cuddle, grab and hoot, just like all the other animals mentioned in the book. Considering these animal ancestors as grandmothers with particular abilities brings the book's lesson home to young readers while additional graphics make it clear that there are connections among all living things. Not only does the book provide an evolutionary family tree that ties various species together, but an afterword offers suggestions for explaining evolutionary concepts such as descent with modification, natural selection, and artificial selection. I also appreciated the explanation for each of the grandmothers' actions and the final page's notes to correct misunderstandings about evolution. The artist used pencil sketches and watercolor textures to create the illustrations, and then colored and collaged them digitally. Although the book is intended for a young audience, it could certainly be useful with older readers as well, even adults who have certain misconceptions about the topic. This might be a handy title to add to the classroom science library.

  • Jada Powell
    2019-01-25 17:27

    The genre of this book is NonFiction. Grandmother Fish is intended for readers aged 3-7 years old. Grandmother Fish is a child’s first book of evolution. The book engages a young child’s imagination with sounds and motions that imitate animals, especially our direct ancestors. It lets children see for themselves that we are related in form and function to the nonhuman animals that came before us. It’s the story of where we came from, told so simply that a preschooler can follow it. I rated thus at five stars because the wonderful picture book introduces each branch on the tree of life with familiar examples and engages readers through active questioning. The consistent format, colorful illustrations, and predictable approach contribute to the book’s appeal. The end includes an evolutionary tree of life, science notes for parents, and ideas for explaining natural selection to children. This book would be appealing to young readers because it involves many different animals and it shows how animals grow. Children are always curious and I believe that this book will have them asking a bunch of questions and ready to explore where they came from. I would make this a lesson in my classroom by involving students in exploring a branch of the evolutionary tree of life and create a mural in the library.

  • VBergen
    2019-02-14 21:22

    The book has beautiful images. The writing style is nice. The subject is presented in a simple way. It is more general than Charlie and Kiwi: An Evolutionary AdventureIt would have been nice to have a little text and illustrations about human evolution species -Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, Neanderthal and so on-.

  • Jessica Brown
    2019-02-08 23:25

    A child-friendly book about evolution, this would make for a great storytime or read-aloud book to any young children. It tells of all the evolving ways that organisms moved/spoke that are interactive (Grandmother Fish could wiggle, can you wiggle? etc.), it asks children to find the grandmothers in a group of other related organisms (find Grandmother Ape among cousin elephant, cousin whale, cousin carnivore, etc.), and it tells when each Grandmother lived with decreasing numbers of the word "long" (Grandmother Fish lived a long, long, long, long time ago as opposed to ape living a long, long time ago). It's a very informative, interactive, adorable first lesson on evolution, and gives a ton of resources and talking points at the end of the book for more ways to introduce this concept to young kids, and the illustrations are sure to catch the kids' eyes.

  • Cornmaven
    2019-01-25 23:06

    Nice picture book explanation of evolution. I think this would go over the heads of preschoolers, but beginning elementary would understand some of the concepts. The illustrations are well done, and the accumulation of verbs describing the abilities of various species was helpful. There's a parent/teacher note, definitions of evolutionary concepts, and further details about each animal mentioned, in the back of the book.Good first start with science!

  • Ryan Moulton
    2019-01-23 20:31

    This is similar in spirit to Eric Carle's "Head to Toe" in which the child is encouraged to mimic something that each of the animals can do, but here it's used to explain our ancestry. Each page shows one of our ancestors, and the abilities that it has that make it more like us than the animal on the previous page.

  • Jillian
    2019-02-20 20:13

    Evolution 101 for the very smallest of people. Big, brightly colored illustrations and simple text (with lots of repetition) really help reinforce the point. Includes a really well-thought-out discussion guide in the back for parents to answer questions and help discuss sensitive topics (such as the "death" part of natural selection).

  • AmmaLinda
    2019-01-21 20:07

    A fantastic introduction to evolution for little ones. Great suggestions for explaining the concept of natural selection at the end make this book useful for older children (and adults) too. Must buy this before the teaching of evolution is banned!

  • Allison
    2019-02-15 22:07

    I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you: http://www.indiebound.