on August 26, 2001
This is a simple book which feels more like a storybook than a science book. This suits it very well to the age group it is aiming at. It is a gentle look at evolution, but because it is focused on only one animal, it can give more detail than a general book on evolution of this size. I really wish they had a series of these, each focusing on a different animal. I also liked the artwork and felt it fit well with the tone of the writing. Overall this was a hit in our family, and I often recommend it to others who are looking for evolution books for the preschool set. There are so few books for youngsters about evolution; it is a real shame. Most of us who want to expose our children to this from early on are pretty much stuck using everything that is available, whether it is particularly well done or not. This is a book I would use even if there were an abundance of books to choose from.
on October 6, 2014
As a child of 6 or 7 I would have given my eye-teeth for a book like this. Even at an early age I, like a lot of children in this day and age, loved reading about animals of all kinds and often wondered about their origins. Where did they come from? How did they get there? If you have a budding naturalist in your family, or your classroom, then this book may be just the ticket to introduce them to the wonders of evolution and whales. Faith McNulty's informative, non-technical, text relates the story of how whales changed from a four legged land dweller to a mighty marine mammal. She explains how environmental pressures and competition from other animals may have led these "walking whales" to seek an aquatic life style. In prose appropriate for early readers (grades 3 to 5) McNulty takes the child on a journey of exploration, from the first whale ancestors to our modern day whales, explaining how they too are warm blooded and have babies that come from their mothers. Artist Ted Rand created the wonderful illustrations using acrylic paints with watercolors and chalk, giving the young reader a glimpse of what long ago life may have looked like. Modern whales are also shown along with their basic natural history. Each painting is a real work of art, beautiful and touching at the same time. The wild, natural world is under constant threat from human encroachment, habitat destruction and just plain indifference. If we have any hope of keeping our "wild places" for future generations it's with our children and the younger we instill in them a love and respect of Nature the better. I recommend you read this book with your child, or student, I think you'll both enjoy it.
on September 29, 2014
Beautifully illustrated. Simple to understand. The concepts are clearly broken down for smaller children, and the limited scale of focusing on just one species makes the bigger concepts of natural selection and evolution as a whole easier to understand. Well received by both my three year old and my seven year old. The youngest will still sit you down to have a very enlightening conversation about mesonychids if you give him long enough.
on December 30, 2005
An earlier reviewer was right on target when s/he said "I wish there was a whole series like this one!" This is an extremely difficult subject to find in a format that is accessible to young children. Though we read it to our son when he was 4, some of the text was difficult but at least it was an introduction to a very difficult topic that is so abstract that it's not easily accessible to young children. It continues to be great as a picture book on the topic as children enter early elementary. Most topics can be introduced to even young children, who are naturally fascinated by their world, as long as it is done in a pleasing picture format. But note, the language can still be complex; you may have to edit depending on the child's age and attention span and vocabulary level but it gives you pictures that you can use as a springboard to discuss the fascinating topic of evolution. So there should really be more of these books covering various science topics. As an adult, even I was interested in the ancestors to modern whales. (As an adjunct to the book, there is a computer graphics mini-video at the Smithsonian in Washington DC that animates the evolution of whales from land animals to sea mammals. Seeing the movie first and having this book afterwards was an amazing learning experience.)