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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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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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Most importantly, my daughter really loves this book (almost as much as the previous two books), as evidenced by her unusually focused attentiveness to the text and her vivid recollection of the graphics. In short, this book was written specifically to engage and teach kids, and it works.
Highly recommended to any parent wishing to introduce their child to the basics of the evolutionary history of mammals and humans.
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. In this book children and adults alike have their trust/faith strengthened, knowing that throughout the Big History of their own cosmic and biological ancestry challenges arose that would have seemed insurmountable at the time. Nonetheless, something good would eventually be born from each moment of mayhem. More, the innate creativity of the universe and living processes was thereby evoked into utterly new and sometimes sublime expression. In a very real way, crucial advances in complexity and the evolution of co-operation can, in hindsight, now be attributed to these very same obstacles. Catastrophes call forth creativity, surely in our own little lives as well as in the Great Story discovered by scientists that gathers all of us -- from stars to bacteria to primates -- into one magnificent family.
As an itinerant "evolutionary evangelist" over the past 8 years, I have sold this science-based trilogy wherever I speak (in churches, monasteries, classrooms, conference settings, and nature centers). Thousands of people who took these books home with them have since thanked me, and profusely. They read it to their children; they gave it to their grandchildren; they used these books as curriculum in Sunday School classes. I have even heard of this trilogy being used as the primary texts for teaching the Big History story of everything and everyone to ministers and religious educators.
Jennifer Morgan's ideas and words in this series are robustly supported by the rich and evocative illustrations by Dana Lynne Andersen. In this third volume the juxtaposition of deep blue with earthy orange on many of the pages creates a color scheme that embeds in one's emotional memory -- as do Dana's choice of image subjects. Who can forget the scientifically accurate rendering of an ancestral miniature horse (evolved not long after the extinction of the great dinosaurs) as it is held aloft in the horse-killing beak of a giant Terror Bird!
This is a story that fascinates and grounds us in reality. We all have a long and magnificent history! This is a story, too, that will not fade into mere metaphor or outright die during the transition from fantasy to fact that we each must navigate as the birthdays cycle by. Rather, the relevance and power of this story grows right along with us.
~ Michael Dowd
Author of "Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World"