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Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 1, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 111 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, April 1, 2003
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This is a bargain book and quantities are limited. Bargain books are new but could include a small mark from the publisher and an Amazon.com price sticker identifying them as such. Details
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3-Evolution is a ticklish topic. It is controversial to some for religious reasons; for others, it is a challenging concept to present to a young audience without losing scientific veracity. For one thing, young children have little concept of time-a million years might be the span between birthdays. For another, the idea of slow, evolutionary change still seems somehow equal to a magician's trick. So, accomplishing a reasonable explanation of a scientific concept and its progress through millennia is worthy of note. Peters's simple text uses the "we/us" format to place Homo sapiens in the "family" of life at its very beginnings. "All of us," she states in the first sentence of the book, "are part of an old, old family," going back to Earth's beginnings. "We've changed a lot since then." Through a simple progression, amply bolstered by Stringer's striking, large acrylics, she traces "our" family tree from unicellular organisms through amphibians, therapsids, and early mammals to early primates, hominids, and our distinct "humanness" today. Enriched by two pages of additional data and a colorful time line, the whole is rounded out by carefully written author and illustrator notes. Simpler than Stephen Webster's The Kingfisher Book of Evolution (2000) and Melvin Berger's How Life Began (Doubleday, 1990; o.p.), and perhaps easier than Joanna Cole's venerable Evolution (Crowell, 1987; o.p.), this book is a wonderful companion to Steve Jenkins's equally attractive Life on Earth (Houghton, 2002).
Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-7. It seems like a great idea: tell the story of the evolution of all living things by showing that "all of us are part of an old, old family" and that we can trace our roots back to "tiny round cells in the deep dark sea." But it's not that easy to explain the minutiae of DNA and the sweep of Earth's geology and biology to a young audience. This oversize picture book, with chatty text and elaborate, packed, brightly colored, double-page illustrations, may look child friendly, but it's sometimes confusing. Readers are told that the time line, which appears in tiny print, isn't drawn to scale, but it certainly looks as if microscopic bacteria haven't been around much longer than primates. The second part of the book works best, tracing the emergence of warm-blooded creatures right up to the excitement of walking upright. This is best suited to classroom use, where adults can turn to helpful notes at the back to discuss our connections with those first tiny round cells and how we've changed since then. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; 1274th edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152017720
  • ASIN: B000C4SU6U
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,665,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It takes guts to write a picture book. Putting your work out there to speak for you. The criticism of hundreds of thousands of adults just waiting to tear you apart. It takes even more guts to write a non-fiction picture book. Now you have to deal with parents passing over your story for, oh I dunno, "Mr. Peabody's Apples" because they're afraid that they themselves will be bored. Pompous adults like that. And finally, it takes a kind of bravery most humans would be lucky to possess to write a non-fiction picture book that sports the word, "evolution", on its cover. So please take a moment to mentally applaud the gutsy efforts of one Ms. Lisa Westberg Peters and one Ms. Lauren Stringer for their moxie laden little number, "Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story".
A delicate rendering of Lascaux acrylics on watercolor paper, the story is one of the oldest ones on earth. Peters begins, "All of us are part of an old, old family. The roots of our family tree reach way back to the beginning of life on earth. We've changed a lot since then". Slowly we learn about DNA and the birth of cells in the seas. We hear about oxygen filling the planet and how the seas rose and fell, changing the landscape. About how animals crawled up onto the land and how after an asteroid our particular branch of the family tree survived. Finally, the monkeys evolved, and we evolved out of the monkeys. The book ends with further details for the inquisitive child about each step of the family tree. A helpful timeline follows these facts at the end.
For those human beings that dislike the notion of evolution and prefer a more creation-laden viewpoint, this is not the book for you. It's pretty darn clear in the text that life began 3,800 to 3,600 million years ago. End of story.
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I was looking for a book that would help my son (5 yrs) better understand what I believe about science and evolution as oposed to what his father believes (the classic Christian creation story). I needed something more than just telling him that I don't believe god created people and that's that. So I went searching. And this was my first hit, my first purchase, and I am SO happy with it.

We just received our package yesterday and my son and I sat and read the book. He loved it. Like another reviewer said, it is very hard for him to grasp millions of years, but I found that just explaining to him in terms of a "long time ago" a "long, long time ago" and a "long, long, long time ago" helped him get the basic idea. He asked questions, and made observations, and was fascinated by the pictures.

This book is just the start in educated him on science, but it is a good one. I've recommended it to all my similarly perplexed friends for their children.
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One reviewer bashed this book for being elementary and simplified. But taking something like evolution, which is so often misunderstood or misrepresented (often knowingly, for political/religious reasons) and boiling it down to its essence for children is no easy task, and this book does it well.
It's not easy being a secular parent, especially in an era where "family friendly" is a code word for "covertly Christian". At the local grocery store there's a large children's book section with racks of religious/mythical books, but nothing about the fundamentals of science and life. I'm delighted to see authors filling this gap.
This book is factual, easy to read, and doesn't provoke controversy. I would recommend it without reservation to any reasonable parent of young children.
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Format: Hardcover
My 2 1/2 tear-old daughter loves this book! She is facinated by the bright, colorful pictures, and likes to talk about the different animals. This book serves as a starting point for discussions about what makes mammals unique, what makes vertebrates unique, and what's the difference between plants and animals. As a mother who's never given a thought to the notion of religious creation, this book is a wonderful introduction to the important question of the origin of life.
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Format: Hardcover
What a magnificent book for children to understand the relatedness of all things, and particularly their own connections to the living world. If we are to fully appreciate our long lineage, our place on our glorious planet, and care for other organisms that share it with us, this book is essential for both parent and child.

Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
This picture book proved a great addition to our resource library. With a lack of emphasis on evolution at school, we were keen to introduce the building block concepts of natural science. The rich images and fairly straight forward style entranced our four and six year old, quickly making it a requested favourite.
It has stimulated many questions from them by providing a good balance between visual interest and information about how life came about and evolved on earth.
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I have two daughters ages 2 and 4. They both love this book. My daughter had been asking me where people came from and I had a really really hard time putting it into ANY terms that she could at all understand (I have a BS in Biology with a minor in biological anthropology which is basically the study of primates and human evolution SO I had a heck of a time filtering the information and putting it into appropriate terms for a 4 year old). So I started looking for story books to help me out. I found this on Amazon so I decided to give it a try. The first time I read it my 4yo looked at me and said "that's the truth, isn't it mommy?" and I said "yep. It sure is".

This really is a great book, the illustrations are great and it simplifies things in a way little kids can kind of get. They don't have a concept of "millions" of years, or really any time period of longer than a millisecond (amiright?) so it's still tricky, but this book gets close.

I agree with a previous reviewer that this book is very limited in the ages of children who will be interested in it. There is very little scientific information in it and as a result kids over the age of 5 or 6 will have zero interest in this. It is for the preschool audience.
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