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Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution Hardcover – October 28, 2002


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618164766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618164769
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.1 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Grabbing the audience's attention with stunning cut- and torn-paper collage illustrations, Jenkins (The Top of the World) illuminates another corner of the science world in this cogent introduction to evolution. Here, he traces the planet's history from its fiery beginnings billions of years ago through the emergence of the first bacteria, development of such organisms as jellyfish, ferns, dinosaurs, mammals and birds, on up to humans. Posing and answering questions ("Why have so many different forms of life developed on the earth?"), Jenkins ably presents such concepts as mutation, extinction and Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest." The information spans an impressive range; Jenkins organizes and presents it with a clarity that demonstrates his mindfulness of the audience. Spacious white backdrops allow the vigorously lifelike collage images to spring to the fore. Bright-eyed frogs appear ready to jump off the pages; a shark swims menacingly toward readers; a wooly mammoth looks soft enough to pet. Science at its most inviting. Ages 6-10.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-Jenkins's trademark watercolor cut-paper collages, a large format, and the careful use of both an oversized and small font are definite lures into this handsome exploration of the basics of evolution. The author has taken on the formidable task of investigating the scientific theories explaining the innumerable branchings, proliferations, and extinctions of life on planet Earth. His lucid text presents a terse chronology of life from its earliest beginnings as one-celled bacteria in the primordial ocean to the appearance of modern man. He then explains how scientists were persuaded that animal/plant classifications and geological/fossil records provided proof that animals and plants had not remained unchanged since a single moment of creation, and discusses how Charles Darwin's investigations in the Gal pagos resulted in his formulation of the theory of evolution. The discussion also includes natural selection, variation and mutation, and how these processes can produce new species and some of the possible causes of extinctions. The final graphic diagram compares Earth's 4 Ù billion-year history with a 24-hour day, showing modern man popping into the scene at 11:59:58 p.m. Larger and more eye-catching than Joanna Cole's Evolution (Crowell, 1987; o.p.), and far simpler than Stephen Webster's The Kingfisher Book of Evolution (Kingfisher, 2000), Life on Earth is a polished exposition of a difficult, often controversial scientific concept. Substantial, despite its picture-book appearance.
Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
I bought this for my 8 year old daughter and she loved it!
Chris Harper
I was hoping to find a book that will facilitate a young child's understanding of evolution, and this is it.
R. Sayre
The collage illustrations in the oversized book are simple, attractive and uncluttered.
Cypress Green

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 86 people found the following review helpful By "hordmom" on August 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read this book to my third grade son and it has been such a huge help. He has been asking a lot of questions about evolution and I was having a hard time explaining it to him on his level. This book introduces the idea of the wide variety of species living on this planet; theories on how life first formed; and walks the reader through the fossil record of our planet. It does all of this simply and with the format of a child's picture book. The illustrations are beautiful and captivating but remarkable simple. Perfect for 7 to 10 year olds.
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80 of 83 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
FABULOUS book introducing the evolution of the earth and all its life forms! Perfect for children pre-k through all of the elementary school years (and parents too!). This book mentions Charles Darwin, the Galapagos Islands, survival of the fittest, variation and mutation, extinction, and more. Nice pictures. Highly recommended for homeschoolers.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By April on April 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm always on the look-out for engaging, informative books on the development of life on earth. My kids and I have actually read quite a few of them. I consider this book one of the better ones for young kids. It does not speak down to kids, nor is it too complicated. The illustrations are Eric Carle-esque with their paper designs and interesting to young ones.

This books begins with first bacteria and progresses through the emergence of human life. However, it does not cover the process of human development at all. It simply says that modern humans appeared on earth 130,000 years ago. I was a little disappointed by this book's lack of detail in the area of human development. If you are looking for a book to introduce human evolution to kids, this one is not for you. If you simply want to introduce Darwinism and the survival of the fittest concept--this book is great.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Brooks Onley on July 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As others have said, this book is quite good, with beautiful collages as illustrations. The first half of the book is simple, following Earth's great geologic ages and the major lifeforms therein. The second half is about the process of biological evolution itself, and much wordier (you may have to slow down and explain a bit for the kids here -- evolution is, after all, a complex process).

There are two details I'd like to mention.

First, when describing the rise of the dinosaurs, an error in paleontology: "They live in the sea, on the land, and in the air." This is a popular misconception. There were two main groups of aquatic reptiles during the Mesozoic, neither of them dinosaurian: the plesiosaurs (think "Loch Ness Monster") and the ichthyosaurs (huge fish-shaped "lizards"). There were no flying dinosaurs (unless one counts birds, of course); it was the pterosaurs ("wing lizards") that dominated the skies. Pterosaurs, though, like crocodilians and dinosaurs, WERE part of the larger group Archosauria ("ruling lizards"), and so more closely related to crocs and dinos (and birds) than to any other reptiles.

A second and IMHO a minor point: as another reviewer mentions, this book, when touching upon specifically human evolution, claims that the "ancestors of early humans" (i.e., ancient bipedal hominids) are "descended from apes." Some may argue. I wouldn't -- at least, not on that particular point. Our last common ancestor with the (other) great apes (the rest of family Hominidae) was most surely conservative in body form, and likely strongly resembled our living relatives. (And an aside: to say these hominids were "descended from apes" ... well, they WERE apes, as are modern humans. What else would they be?)

Altogether, though, great for the young (but not the very young), and worth the buy.
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84 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Ades Rocker on September 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because my 7-year-old has learned to say hi to Jesus when he passes by a church (thanks to grandma). He stopped believing in Mother Nature and I wanted to nip religious fanaticism in the bud. This book worked! It is beautifully illustrated, interesting, and full of cool facts. It furthered our discussions about creation vs. evolution and since my son is a lover of dinosaurs, he is on his way to scientific allegiance. I highly reccommend it to any parent who wants to teach children about the history of the earth and to unteach insipid mythology. *Although I must warn, it has quite a bit of writing and big words for young children.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn White on July 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a very broad survey of life on Earth basics for children new to learning about science, biology, and evolution. It's already proved invaluable in jumpstarting conversations with them about more specific points in evolutionary history (like horse evolution--in the book, there's a brief blurb about the first horses that led into a discussion about "toes" and grasslands and other specifics of their changes over time). My children are also able to make connections to other things that have read, learned, or noticed in other places, too, thanks in large part to the multitude of charming illustrations and varied species to support and flavor broad, boiled-down theoretical points. Fantastic classic picture-book with lots of opportunities for sparking interest, making connections, and explaining (in simple terms) the magnificence of evolutionary theory.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joan on June 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am homeschooling my child, partially because I don't want his education dumbed down so as not to offend the religious extremists (believe me, textbooks have been dumbed down and certain subjects are skipped simply to avoid offended parents). So,
I have been looking for books appropriate for a young child that provide an overview the evolution of life on earth. I want to provide for him a sense of where he belongs within the big picture. This book accomplishes that.

The book is listed for 9-12 year olds and elsewhere for 6-10 year olds. I just read it to my six year old and it took a little bit of work to keep him with it and a few explanations of what things meant, but to the book's credit (and his), he did stay with it. I would say its appropriate for 6-10 with an adult explaining it. 9-12 is more appropriate for independent reading.

The complaint about man not being descended from apes is silly since humans are considered to be apes and are minimally descended from themselves. I'm assuming the author of that complaint has some point, but I don't think its one that in any way affects the value of this book.

If I were to change one thing about the book, I would get rid of the comparison of the history of earth to now as being 24 hours. I think that just confuses the issue. Instead, provide the time line without the 24 hours and the concept will be visually communicated without the added problem to have to explain what 24 hour hours has to do with it.

Highly recommended book.
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More About the Author

Steve Jenkins has written and illustrated thirty picture books for young readers, including the Caldecott Honor-winning What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? His books have been called stunning, eyepopping, inventive, gorgeous, masterful, extraordinary, playful, irresistible, compelling, engaging, accessible, glorious, and informative. He lives in Colorado with his wife and frequent collaborator, Robin Page, and their children. To learn more about Steve and his books, visit www.stevejenkinsbooks.com.

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