Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Animals Charles Darwin Saw: An Around–the-world adventure

Animals Charles Darwin Saw: An Around–the-world adventure

Sandra Markle
Illustrator:  Zina Saunders 
Nonfiction Picture Book  Series
For ages 7 to 9
Chronicle Books, 2009   ISBN: 0811850498

Today we think nothing of the idea that animals and plants change over time. They evolve to suit their changing environment. However before Charles Darwin put forward his idea of evolution this idea was unheard of. Everyone believed that animals were put on earth by God in one form and they stayed in that form.

Charles Darwin’s theory began to germinate in his mind during an expedition that he took. During the journey on the HMS Beagle Charles began to see first hand how incredibly varied life on earth was. He collected insects and reptiles, shells and fossils. He made extensive notes describing the creatures that he saw in jungles, on beaches, and everywhere else that he visited. He discovered skeletons of animals that were extinct but that did resemble animals that we see in the present day. Could the enormous sloths that once lived in South America be the ancestor of the smaller species that he had seen? Could changes on the planet have changed the landscape and thus changed the animals that lived in those places? Could animals that got displaced from their homes change over time to better suit their new environments? Charles had a lot of questions and over time he found some answers that would have a profound effect on the way people thought about the world.

In this well written and easy to follow picture book the author finds an excellent balance between informing her readers, and not overwhelming them with science that can be hard to understand. In addition to the story about Charles Darwin and his work, she also gives her readers interesting snippets of information about some of the creatures that Charles Darwin studied.