Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Darwin and Evolution for Kids: His Life and ideas with 21 Activities

Darwin and Evolution for Kids: His Life and ideas with 21 Activities

Kristan Lawson
For ages 9 and up
Chicago Review Press, 2003   ISBN: 978-1556525025

He was a man who set the world on its head and caused so much controversy that not only were men arguing about his work in the seats of learning, but men and women were talking about him on the streets. He never set out to cause such a disturbance but when Charles Darwin started to put his ideas together to form a theory, he just had to share what he had learned with others. After all his ideas were astonishing - that animal and plant species did not arrive on earth as we see them today but that they evolved over time and adapted to changing circumstances. Suddenly the idea that God had created the world and everything on it in little more than a week was in question. Worse still Darwin suggested that the ancestors of humans were none other than apes. Many people were very upset, the church was furious, and Darwin was attacked on all sides.

Darwin came by the material which fed his theory while he was on an around-the-world voyage on board the H.M.S. Beagle. He gathered all kinds of specimens, saw the remains of enormous dinosaurs -what had happened to these creatures he wondered- and saw that the same species of bird in two different locations would adapt to different environments. Hence finches on the Galapagos Islands would have different beaks from similar finches found on the mainland of South America.

From this excellent book we not only learn about Darwin and his life and work. We also learn about the world that he lived in, we read about the theory which caused so much trouble in his lifetime and long afterwards, and we can take part in a number of activities that the author has created for the book. These include learning how to be a backyard naturalist, how to demonstrate how plants can travel long distances across oceans, showing how natural selection works, and much more.

All in all this is book which provides the reader with an extraordinarily thorough and interesting picture of Darwin and his work.