From Publishers Weekly
The author of The Science Book here takes on the entire history of life on earth, beginning four billion years ago with the first organic molecules brewing in primordial clay, and tracing the slow progress of evolving life to the present. Exceedingly well researched and unflaggingly interesting, the book delves into the biology and behavior of every imaginable prehistoric and modern plant and animal. Stein covers an enormous amount of material, touching on such topics as the seemingly intelligent behavior of insects, the mental maps that allow birds to find migration routes and the mystery of African fossils found in Boston. Rather than dwell on theory, Stein allows scientific principles to arise naturally from the material. Also included are hundreds of sidebars, many of which propose field trips, experiments or projects. The Evolution Book is a wonderful experience. It's dense without being dull, and vivid while never oversimplifying.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-10 Stein tries to make evolution accessible and immediate, without distracting readers with the usual controversies that accompany its study. She approaches the material through natural history and biology, and suggests activities that demonstrate the scientific principles involved. After carefully defining theory and explaining that evolution is a combination of many theories, Stein attempts to explain what scientists have discovered and/or believe. Her good intentions have, unfortunately, prevented complete success. She introduces technical terms and processes, but before she defines them completely, she switches to colloquialisms that confuse rather than clarify. This problem is compounded by the lack of a glossary, and the fact that new words are not always defined. Occasionally this leads to a patronizing tone, as when Stein describes Ice Age Man gathering food by ``grabbing whatever is closest at hand like kids let loose in a candy store.'' Many photographs of children engaged in common activities provide visual appeal but little elucidation. Well-drawn diagrams are not always supported by clear textual explanation. Some suggested activities will aid understanding. Others are not explained fully enough to ensure success (a compost heap), are of questionable value (skinning and tanning hides), or are simply unsafe (demonstrating the Moro reflex with a baby). Although this book cannot easily be used as a first source, Stein's unique perspective and broad coverage are too important to pass it up completely. Allen Meyer, Vernon Area Public Library District, Prairie View, Ill.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.