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8 Reviews
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62 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally a secular origin of life book! Perhaps too abstract.
Because there are so few books on evolution out there that are really aimed at young children, I think it is definitely worth having, but I thought it had a few shortcomings. The first few pages really read like a book for toddlers, but then it gets more advanced (preschool to early elementary), this caused it to not really flow well for me, this is simply a stylistic...
Published on August 26, 2001

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I really want a book to introduce the concept of evolution to elementary age children. This book has so many frustrating properties that I'm probably going to return it. The very first page was a problem. "In the beginning days of the Earth, all was silence." So we run into the philosophical discussion of if a tree falls in the forest and no one was there to hear it,...
Published on September 12, 2009 by Joan


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62 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally a secular origin of life book! Perhaps too abstract., August 26, 2001
Because there are so few books on evolution out there that are really aimed at young children, I think it is definitely worth having, but I thought it had a few shortcomings. The first few pages really read like a book for toddlers, but then it gets more advanced (preschool to early elementary), this caused it to not really flow well for me, this is simply a stylistic matter and not really a problem with the content though. It starts at the beginning, not before the planet existed, but before there was any life on it. It goes about 18 pages getting through the first not quite alive thing that could make copies of itself, but sometimes, rarely, the copy wasn't exact. Then in one page jumps through the millions of years to when "many new kinds of aliveness appeared in the world". The rest of it is very VERY general, and simplified. Personally I found it oversimplified, and found the first half of the book to be out of balance with the second half. There are so few books on evolution out there aimed at young children. It is nice to have something. The cover of the book has a very colorful picture on it, but inside the illustrations are all purple and white. I think simpler, full color illustrations inside would be more suited to a book aimed at children this age. This is the author's note: "During a recent trip to the library, I noticed that, while there were many books retelling biblical creation stories, there were relatively few books on evolution for younger children. Those books that attempted to explain evolution did so in a way that, though scientifically accurate, conveyed none of the wonder and excitement of this concept. The Tree Of Life is my attempt to help young children understand the beauty and power of this great idea. Obviously, a book for young children on this topic must leave out some complex details (for instance, the role of sexual selection as one of the driving mechanisms of evolution). The illustrations, also, must necessarily be somewhat abstract and suggestive rather than literal. Nevertheless, great care has been taken to maintain accuracy throughout, although some of the ideas have been simplified for this audience." I guess I just feel that it was more abstract and simplified than I would have liked. It is a decent book to have around, particularly when used with other books. I didn't like it nearly as much as How Whales Walked Into the Sea by Faith McNulty, but she had a much easier job of only focusing on one animal, not introducing the idea of evolution from nothing alive to the myriad of life forms we have today. If you are an aspiring children's book author or illustrator, this is a subject that could really use a lot more attention. Start working!
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book on evolution for young children!, July 20, 1999
By A Customer
"Tree of Life" is a educational storybook, which tells the story of biological evolution from before the first form of life appeared, to the appearance of the first humans, and all in words even a preschooler can understand. My three year old only had a few questions the first time I read it, and it is now one of his favorites. The large, beautiful purple and white illustrations also make it as enjoyable to look at as it is to read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a children's book to tell the story of evolution, January 19, 2007
This review is from: The Tree Of Life: The Wonders Of Evolution (Paperback)
"The Tree of Life: The Wonders Of Evolution" is a long awaited book. After countless titles that portray the beginning of life from a religious perspective, Ellen Jackson finally offers a scientific explanation. While the book is overall done well, it has issues. In terms of appropriateness, the reading level is mismatched with the illustrations. The illustrations are very primary while the diction, vocabulary and intellectual content is upper intermediate. Thus intermediate kids will yawn at the illustrations while the story will sail above the head of the younger ones. The reading level is so high that a glossary is noticeably absent. Also, the illustrations would have been more effective were they in color. The blue tinted black and white images don't assist the creators in their goal to communicate "the beauty and power of this great idea." Such issues suggest that the book was created on a shoe-string budget. "The Tree of Life" is worth having, especially considering the limited availability of like-minded titles. That written, it leaves room for a more polished alternative. The most elegant alternative may be Lauren Stringer's "Our Family Tree." Unlike Jackson's book, this title features gorgeous color pictures and simple text that matches the illustrations.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, September 12, 2009
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This review is from: The Tree Of Life: The Wonders Of Evolution (Paperback)
I really want a book to introduce the concept of evolution to elementary age children. This book has so many frustrating properties that I'm probably going to return it. The very first page was a problem. "In the beginning days of the Earth, all was silence." So we run into the philosophical discussion of if a tree falls in the forest and no one was there to hear it, does it make a sound? I think so. I really doubt the beginning was silent and the next page in the book contradicts the silence. The illustration to go with this shows earth in roughly its presently land formation, which of course is inappropriate for "the beginning". On top of that all of the pictures are black and white. The text sounds like a revised creation myth instead of science. I'm seriously disappointed and if I can find a different book that does a better job, I'm returning this one. Even if the text had been better, this should have been a $6-8 book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice words, uninspiring pictures..., April 14, 2008
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This review is from: The Tree Of Life: The Wonders Of Evolution (Paperback)
I should have read the other reviews--I was expecting beautiful full-color pictures like the cover art. Since the same illustrator actually did the cover, it seems like a very unfortunate editorial decision to not create a full color picture book! When I first received "The Tree of Life", I actually thought there had been some sort of printing error. The unfortunate blue-purple color reminds me of old mimeograph sheets. I chose a picture book rather than a text because I wanted inspiring art, and this just doesn't do it. Unfortunately, the sample doesn't show enough of the book to realize how monotonous (both figuratively and literally) the pages actually are.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Almost alive things copying, and duplicating, and making copies of copies.", September 10, 2008
By 
The Milky Mommy (Middletown, DE United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Tree Of Life: The Wonders Of Evolution (Paperback)
I bought this book recently to read to my four year old son. Religious relatives have begun inundating him with the magical "Because God made it that way," explanations, so I definitely felt it was time to introduce the concept of evolution.

As other reviewers have mentioned, the illustrations are boring, and completely lacking in color (they're all bluish/grayish).

The other major issue I had with this book was the convoluted attempt at introducing cell replication. The term "almost alive things" was repeated so many times that my sons father and I read it aloud, after putting our son to bed, and laughed for a good five minutes straight. And phrases similar to "copies making copies of copies of almost alive things," made it nearly impossible for our son to become interested.

With that being said, he did enjoy this book overall, but definitely prefers the book "Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story" over this one.

I would rate this book at a solid three, but feel that it should gain a star on the basis of the fact that it IS one of the few age-appropriate evolution books I have found to read to my four year old.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The book is ok..., July 28, 2011
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This review is from: The Tree Of Life: The Wonders Of Evolution (Paperback)
The Tree of Life: The Wonders of Evolution is a nice book in the sense that it provides a tool to explain evolution to youth. Unfortunately all the pictures are blue--very similar to watercolor paintings only in blue. In addition the text can be a little off at times and could be a little confusing to younger kids. Overall it's nice to have a book to describe evolution to children in a much more comprehendable manner, but it isn't a book that will "wow" you.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More basic than I had hoped for, October 24, 2009
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This review is from: The Tree Of Life: The Wonders Of Evolution (Paperback)
I mostly gave this book 4 stars because at least it is an attempt at a scientific explanation of life rather than a religious one. The book is however, very basic and really for pretty young children. I bought it thinking of my 6-year-old who has a lot of questions, but it turned out to be more appropriate for my 4-year-old.
I wished there were more books of this type.
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The Tree Of Life: The Wonders Of Evolution
The Tree Of Life: The Wonders Of Evolution by Ellen B. Jackson (Paperback - November 1, 2004)
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