Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story

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Overview

All of us are part of an old, old family. The roots of our family tree reach back millions of years to the beginning of life on earth. Open this family album and embark on an amazing journey. You'll meet some of our oldest relatives—from both the land and the sea—and discover what we inherited from each of them along the many steps of our wondrous past.
Complete with an illustrated timeline and glossary, here ...

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Overview

All of us are part of an old, old family. The roots of our family tree reach back millions of years to the beginning of life on earth. Open this family album and embark on an amazing journey. You'll meet some of our oldest relatives—from both the land and the sea—and discover what we inherited from each of them along the many steps of our wondrous past.
Complete with an illustrated timeline and glossary, here is the story of human evolution as it's never been told before.

Relates the evolution of the family of mankind, from single cells in the sea to human beings with "big brains that wonder who we are."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Evolution is what has created the living world and what keeps it going. If we do not understand evolution, we will never understand our world. How lucky our children are to have this beautiful and moving guide from which to learn!"
—Dr. Ernst Mayr
Professor of Zoology, Emeritus, Harvard University
From the Publisher

"Evolution is what has created the living world and what keeps it going. If we do not understand evolution, we will never understand our world. How lucky our children are to have this beautiful and moving guide from which to learn!"
--Dr. Ernst Mayr
Professor of Zoology, Emeritus, Harvard University
Publishers Weekly
"All of us are part of an old, old family," begins Peters's (Cold Little Duck, Duck, Duck) lyrical, child-friendly book about evolution. Stressing the kinship of humans with all living things, the text identifies each of the species at various stages of evolution not just as "our" relatives but as ourselves ("We didn't have two eyes to blink or ten toes to wiggle. We were just tiny round cells in the deep, dark sea"). Focusing briefly on selected successive stages over millions of years, her descriptions emphasize the "outside" and "inside" of each creature ("On the outside, we were squishy and soft, like worms. On the inside, our cells had many shapes-square like boxes, pointy like stars, round like ripe seeds"). While most of the writing seems keenly attuned to young readers, there is one troublesome exception. The pivotal concept-that all life shares a common ancestor-is introduced as Peters writes that the cells in the deep, dark sea "had the same kind of spiraling genetic code for life we have today"; the idea of a genetic code goes unexplained, even in the endnotes. Stringer's (Scarecrow) warm, inviting acrylics alternate full-bleed vistas with close-ups of each stop on the journey, effectively mirroring the text's outside/inside approach. An arresting image of a fish, for instance, in shades of cobalt and sea green, is flip-flopped on the opposite page as a tawny fossil. An illustrated timeline helps readers place the information in context. All ages. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This book is an absolute must-own for those who believe in evolution or want to offer a different idea of creation to all young children who ask, "Where do we come from?" The story is beautifully written and is able to take a difficult topic and put it into words that children will enjoy and understand. Page after page offer insight into the subject of evolution and provide explanations for many questions people have on the topic. The illustrations are breathtaking and add much to the power of this book. Just as interesting as the actual story is the Family Tree and the Family Tree Timeline included at the end of the book. Each piece of information is illustrated adding to the clarity of the facts. This is a wonderful book selection for parents to read aloud to their child. The author's choice of words impressed me with her concern that the children who read or hear this story will understand that she wrote it just for them. 2003, Harcourt Inc,
— Kathie Josephs
School Library Journal
K-Gr 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.
Kirkus Reviews
Luminous, eye-filling paintings accompany a poetic disquisition on our ancestors, from primordial single-celled creatures to dexterous, big-brained walkers. Framing the discourse with scenes of an adult drawing linked pictures in the sand for two children, Stringer (Mud, 2001, etc.) gives her dramatically posed prehistoric figures even more visual impact by outlining them in light, and placing them against vivid, undulant sea- or landscapes. Beginning with the appearance of multi-celled organisms, Peters (Cold Little Duck, Duck, Duck, 2000, etc.) traces successive developmental watersheds, including the appearance of backbones, lungs, warm blood, milk, and finally hands, through two major mass extinctions and up the present--then appends more detailed recapitulations of each stage in glosses and a separate time line. Source notes from author and illustrator cap a lyrical, carefully researched look into our deep past that will give young readers a firm sense of their place within the long history of life on this planet. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152017729
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/10/2003
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 336,028
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.60 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

LISA WESTBERG PETERS is the author of several acclaimed picture books, including Cold Little Duck, Duck, Duck and The Sun, the Wind and the Rain. She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

LAUREN STRINGER has illustrated many well-loved picture books. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 26, 2009

    What a great book!

    My 5 yr old asked me the other day - Mommy, where did all the people come from before the world existed? Yikes! Evolution for kindergartners! I did a quick search and found this book and ordered it sight unseen.

    What an amazing book! Gorgeous illustrations and a fascinating way to explain the origins of life. I can easily see how I can read this with her for years to come and as she grows and learns she'll get more and more from it. It can easily work for a much older child because the end of the book contains far more detailed explanations for each stage of life.

    Really wonderful!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2013

    You should read the book My Family Tree because it tells you a l

    You should read the book My Family Tree because it tells you a lot of facts about how the Evolution happened over the years. Before I read the book I thought it would be boring because it’s a book for little kids. This book is really easy for everyone to read because the words are simple and they have pictures to help you visualize. This book taught me some facts about evolution. It taught me how the early hominids started to look more and more like humans over the years. I recommend this book for others to read because even though it is a kids book you can learn a lot of new information.

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