Charlie and Kiwi: An Evolutionary Adventure

Overview

An easy to understand scientific adventure with Charlie and Kiwi who take you on a journey through time and through a huge scientific principle. The story of evolution!

To Charlie’s classmates, it seems like the kiwi bird got a raw deal: It barely has wings at all, so it can’t fly, and its long whiskers are more like a cat’s. How can such an unlucky bird even survive in the wild? But Charlie thinks the kiwi is cool, and with the help of his great-great-great-great-great-grandpa ...

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Overview

An easy to understand scientific adventure with Charlie and Kiwi who take you on a journey through time and through a huge scientific principle. The story of evolution!

To Charlie’s classmates, it seems like the kiwi bird got a raw deal: It barely has wings at all, so it can’t fly, and its long whiskers are more like a cat’s. How can such an unlucky bird even survive in the wild? But Charlie thinks the kiwi is cool, and with the help of his great-great-great-great-great-grandpa Charles Darwin, he travels back in time to learn how the kiwi evolved from a dinosaur-like creature to its present-day wingless state. Learning that “little changes in each generation can add up to BIG changes,” Charlie begins to understand that the kiwi bird’s flightless ways and catlike whiskers might be a bit odd, but they are exactly what has helped the species survive over thousands of years!

Based on an exhibit from the New York Hall of Science that is currently touring the country, this Darwinian adventure through time explains the hugely important principle of evolution in an accessible, kid-friendly style.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When Charlie decides to research the unique kiwi bird for a school report, he is launched on a time-travel adventure that delves into the underpinnings of evolutionary theory. First stop in his makeshift time machine is 1860, to meet Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandpa Charles (Darwin, it's assumed). The two visit the first kiwis in New Zealand, then feathered dinosaurs 150 million years ago, before returning to the present. "Peering out the window, Charlie and Grandpa Charles watched the world change. There were more feathered dinosaurs in each generation. They had more feathers, longer feathers, stiffer feathers." While some plot devices are gimmicky or fall flat (Grandpa Charles's witticisms about needing dinner; Charlie's stuffed kiwi spearheading the time travel, yelling "Keee-weee! Keee-weee!"), the story's fast-paced narrative and cartoon vignettes do a commendable job of explaining how small adaptations over time lead to evolution. The book was written as a companion to an exhibit at the New York Hall of Science, and flap copy directs readers to a Web site with an animated version of the story, games, and other resources and information. Ages 4–8. (June)
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—This story was written to supplement a traveling exhibit by the New York Hall of Science. Young Charlie is assigned to write a report about a bird. He selects the kiwi and sets out to learn why it has such unusual traits. The story becomes fantastic when a toy kiwi that inspired the project comes to life and invites Charlie on a time-travel adventure back to 1860. The boy meets his Great-Great-Great-Grandpa Charles Darwin, and together they travel back 30 million years to the time of the first kiwis. Darwin enlightens Charlie about his theory of natural selection by viewing the birds and their adaptations. Charlie and his grandpa then travel farther back to the days of the dinosaurs where they witness feathered reptiles. Together they arrive at the conclusion that the first birds were dinosaurs. Upon his return to the present, Charlie presents his conclusions to his classmates and Darwin has a new idea to ponder. This book would be a nice addition to units on evolution, and it has merit as a good reinforcement for the concepts introduced in the exhibition, but for general use, children might prefer to visit the exhibit online and hear the book narrated with animation. The digital-cartoon illustrations are sufficient to support the text but are not impressive.—Diane Antezzo, Ridgefield Library, CT
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Charlie is doing a report on the kiwi for an assignment on birds but he is stumped as to how to make it interesting. That night the little stuffed kiwi becomes real and takes Charlie on a fantastic journey back in time. There he meets his five times great grandfather (who just happens to be Charles Darwin) and begins to learn of the evolution of his extraordinary bird. To understand it all better, Charlie and Grandpa Charles travel back two more times until they arrive in the time of the dinosaurs. There Grandpa explains the kiwi gradually added feathers and wings and took flight. Of course this took millions of years. After zooming home, Charlie presents his report to his rapt classmates, and having a fossil from Grandpa Charles is a bonus. The complex topic of evolution is presented in small chunks in a readable and comprehendible manner for young readers. Cartoon watercolors are engaging and the time travel aspect is a nice hook. Boys who love all things dinosaurs and teachers looking for a simple explanation for a difficult subject are a sure audience for this one. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—This story was written to supplement a traveling exhibit by the New York Hall of Science. Young Charlie is assigned to write a report about a bird. He selects the kiwi and sets out to learn why it has such unusual traits. The story becomes fantastic when a toy kiwi that inspired the project comes to life and invites Charlie on a time-travel adventure back to 1860. The boy meets his Great-Great-Great-Grandpa Charles Darwin, and together they travel back 30 million years to the time of the first kiwis. Darwin enlightens Charlie about his theory of natural selection by viewing the birds and their adaptations. Charlie and his grandpa then travel farther back to the days of the dinosaurs where they witness feathered reptiles. Together they arrive at the conclusion that the first birds were dinosaurs. Upon his return to the present, Charlie presents his conclusions to his classmates and Darwin has a new idea to ponder. This book would be a nice addition to units on evolution, and it has merit as a good reinforcement for the concepts introduced in the exhibition, but for general use, children might prefer to visit the exhibit online and hear the book narrated with animation. The digital-cartoon illustrations are sufficient to support the text but are not impressive.—Diane Antezzo, Ridgefield Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews

For a school report, Charlie and his stuffed kiwi travel in time to learn why a kiwi is so unlike other birds.

With Kiwi leading the way, Charlie goes back to 1860 to meet his five-times-great-grandfather, Charles. The three then journey to the New Zealand of 30 million years ago to see the early kiwi's world, then to 150 million years ago to see dinosaurs with feathers. From then, they go slowly forward in time to the point when the first true bird developed before returning to their respective times. The straightforward story line demonstrates the theory of evolution as the process of a series of small changes over generations, each of which led to ever more successful reproduction. Reynolds' cheerful cartoon-y figures think in speech bubbles; they share space with the narrative text, which is told with humor, plentiful dialogue, font sizes that vary for emphasis and attention to word choice. All this is set on generous white space, inviting and accessible to middle-grade readers and younger listeners. Produced in conjunction with a project and traveling exhibit developed by the New York Hall of Science and Reynolds' FableVision studio, an animated bilingual (Spanish and English) version of the title is available on the exhibit website.

With appealing child and animal characters, a touch of fantasy and an adventurous narrative arc, this conveys an important scientific concept in a child-friendly package.(Informational picture book. 5-9)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442421127
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/28/2011
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 1,009,310
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD480L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

The New York Hall of Science is New York's hands-on science and technology center. They promote science and technology as important tools that help us understand ourselves and the world we live in.

Visit the exhibit behind the book, Charlie & Kiwi's Evolutionary Adventure in person or online http://www.nysci.org/explore/ontour/charlieandkiwi.

FableVision is an award-winning children’s media developer and book packager founded by Peter and Paul Reynolds.

Peter H. Reynolds is the bestselling author and illustrator of I’m Here, The Dot, and Ish; and illustrator for the New York Times #1 bestseller Someday by Alison McGhee. He is also the illustrator of Going Places, Little Boy, Charlie and Kiwi, and the Judy Moody series. He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, where he is co-owner of the Blue Bunny bookstore. Visit Peter at PeterHReynolds.com.

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