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Mammals Who Morph: The Universe Tells Our Evolution Story: Book 3 (The Universe Series) Paperback – September 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4–This follow-up to The Big Bang (2002) and From Lava to Life (2003, both Dawn) is the last in a trilogy in which the personified universe presents the history of our cosmos in letters to an Earthling. This one picks up at the dawn of the Age of Mammals and ends with present-day humans inhabiting a modern Earth. Enveloped in a New Age-ish aura, the chatty text (Wow! Humans tamed fire!) is accompanied by frequently swirling art that may not reach the intended audience. While evolution is used in the subtitle and appears in the afterword for adults, it is never defined, not even in the glossary; nor are the terms natural selection or morph. There are occasional lapses in accuracy (Some day, their ancestors would be true hippos. Unh-uh. Descendants, please.) and manages to impart a good dollop of oversimplification as well. Creationists, who will be cranky in any case due to the proffered concepts, will not find God in the text, and pure scientists will balk at some of the statements (…grass loved horses) and the unexplained gaps in known evolutionary trails. Satisfy young readers interested in evolution with titles such as Steve Jenkins's handsome Life on Earth (Houghton, 2002) or Lisa Westberg Peters's excellent Our Family Tree (Harcourt, 2003).–Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"...Readers young and old will be intrigued and informed by this science-based tale from Mother Universe." -- ForeWord Magazine, November/December 2006

"...mammalian evolution told in a way that will engage and enchant, as well as educate, children and adults alike." --Dr. Jane Goodall, Primatologist, Founder of The Jane Goodall Institute

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 and up
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Paperback: 45 pages
  • Publisher: Dawn Pubns (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584690852
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584690856
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 10.2 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

When my son was six years old, I got hooked, I mean really hooked, on cosmology. . . the science of it and the emerging "new story" about where we come from. The writings of Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, and Maria Montessori, among many others knocked me off my horse, igniting a passion for this work and providing a philosophical basis . . . while courses at Princeton University, as well as countless conversations with scientists who were so generous with their time, provided the scientific basis for my writing.

Naturally, my son (no longer six as you can see in the picture) had to hear about everything I was learning. I taught him through bedtime stories about hydrogen forming inside the big bang, stars igniting, supernovae forging the elements for life, and the birth of our sun and earth and humans out of star dust. He was fascinated too and would ask things like, "Mom, what's the texture of the edge of the universe?" These stories turned into an award-winning series with endorsements from renowned scientists in astro-physics, evolutionary biology and anthropology; educators; and religious leaders. They're now used in classrooms around the world, by adults who want to learn the essential science concepts, and for reflection on retreats. I give storytellings and programs for adults, children, and organizations and would love to hear from you! There's lots more information on my website at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By David H Miller on November 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the concluding volume of a bizarrely brilliant trilogy on the history of the universe and of life. Every school and public library - no, every family! - in America should own all three volumes in the trilogy. (The earlier volumes are "Born With a Bang" and "From Lava to Life.")

There is a rising tide of anti-science ideology in the United States, accompanied (and caused) by a vast scientific illiteracy. This is frightening not only because modern economies are so heavily dependent upon scientific knowledge but also because it is science which dissipated the ancient fear-ridden world of witches and ghosts and demons. Take away science and the old terrors can return to haunt humankind. And those terrors long served, and can still serve, to justify man's inhumanity to man.

The reasons for the anti-science tide are complex: America, for example, has an anti-intellectual tradition going back to the Romantic era of the early nineteenth century (see, e.g., E. D. Hirsch's discussion in "The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them"). Because knowledge in general, and especially in science, is necessarily "elitist," science also runs against the populism and egalitarianism long endemic in the United States.

Most disturbing is the use of anti-science propaganda by various political and cultural forces to cynically advance their own political agenda (and make some money on the side). For example, Ann Coulter, in her recent book "Godless," launched a lengthy and virtually unhinged attack on the fact of evolution.

At a higher intellectual level, the noted Jewish "neoconservative" intellectual Irving Kristol has declared, "All I want to do is break the bonds of Darwinian materialism which at the moment restrict our imagination.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By K. Giroux on September 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Mammals Who Morph" is Jennifer Morgan's 3rd book of a trilogy that successfully condenses 3.7 billion years of natural history from the big bang beginning to the present into a story told by the universe itself (who else could do it?). She highlights important scientific concepts and presents them in a way that is compelling to children and makes them feel good about being part of a greater whole. Morgan's ability to make difficult scientific concepts easy to understand and to weave spiritual concepts of unity, commonality and community throughout these stories makes them a great bridge for children wrestling with what politicians have made into polarized issues between science and religion. Although Morgan's degree is in theology, she sticks to the facts as they are now known and spins them into an easily readable story that all ages and religions can enjoy and learn from. In this last book of the trilogy she describes the population of the planet by an assortment of mammals in a way that conveys the beauty of evolution without dwelling on the how. Cleverly, the text is written with two type sizes enabling the youngest readers to hear the story without much detail by reading the largest type. Every elementary school, church, synagogue, mosque and parent should have a set and read it to their children. Without a doubt, this is a comforting story that all who ever have seriously asked the question "Where did we come from?" will enjoy.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Linda Fitch on March 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
As a resident of Princeton, New Jersey, a town filled with eminent scientists (including my Noble Laureate physicist uncle) I have lived for years believing that science was beyond my ken, beyond my capacity for even the faintest glimmering of understanding.

In the last few years I have been thrilled to discover Jennifer Morgan, a Princeton author who has written three science books designed for children, entitled A Universe Story Trilogy. The first book, Born With a Bang, covers the history of the universe from its beginning 13.7 billion years ago to the beginning of Earth. The second book, From Lava to Life, tells the story of life beginning as bacteria . . . to the reign of the dinosaurs. Mammals Who Morph, the third book, takes the story from the extinction of the dinosaurs to the rise of Homo sapiens.

The three books are charming and work as wonderful bedtime story reading. But despite the charm and the beautiful illustrations, Ms. Morgan is writing hard science. In a recent seminar which she led, I learned that she spent a number of years talking with cosmologists, evolutionary biologists, and anthropologists, doing her best to be sure that these children's stories were rigorously in accord with current scientific thinking.

To be sure, scientific thinking changes, as Ms. Morgan is the first to acknowledge, and indeed theories which are current today are subject to revision tomorrow. But the extraordinary gift which Jennifer Morgan has given, is a sense that science is full of wonder, excitement and reverence.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Dowd on March 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
This third and final volume in a now-classic series of children's books culminates in a square look at the bad news facing our own impetuous species today (environmental decline, embattled peoples). Yet it leaves readers inspired to do their part in carrying the awesome multi-billion-year story of the universe forward in healthy ways.

In all three volumes of cosmic, biological, and cultural history -- Born With a Bang: The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story (Sharing Nature With Children Book), From Lava to Life: The Universe Tells Our Earth's Story (Sharing Nature With Children Book), and Mammals Who Morph: The Universe Tells Our Evolution Story (Sharing Nature With Children Book) -- the author presents episodes of catastrophes that actually happened: subatomic particle annihilation in volume 1, the oxygen crisis and meteor impact in volume 2, and in this volume (number 3) how the bright side of human ingenuity can also morph into a dark side: technological inventiveness that can turn disagreements into inter-group warfare and that can devastate ecologies in unanticipated ways.

Too often, books written for children sugarcoat the natural world and our own human history -- thus offering scant guidance for finding one's way through the challenges of life.
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