Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution by Jordan Bell

Written by Dr. Jordan Bell, illustrated by Gabriel Cunnett and reviewed for scientific accuracy by paleontologist Professor John Long, Aunt Jodie’s Guide is a compelling story of adventure and discovery, that is engaging and interesting to kids and parents alike.

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Join Sophie and Matt as Aunt Jodie takes you on an imagination-expanding journey back in time.

Learn about evolution in two different species, millions of years apart: the Plesiads, ancient lemur-like creatures from 55 million years ago, and colour-changing Peppered Moths from the 1800s.

What happens to the Plesiads when a volcano erupts? How do the moths survive when their camouflage stops working?

Discover the secrets that help all creatures transform and develop when big changes happen in the world around them.

A little about Jordan first:

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As a nerdy parent who loves reading to my daughter, I wanted to find interesting children’s fiction with a strong STEM message, to help her learn about the world. I know there are lots of other parents out there who really want to instill a love of science in their children, but don’t know how to do it. So I wrote us a book – Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution.

Corinne Morier’s Review: 4-Stars

Huh. I went in with very low expectations but came out very pleasantly surprised. Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution is a picture book-esque story about Aunt Jodie teaching her niece and nephew about evolution through easy-to-understand explanations and time-travel-esque tactics. As always, here’s three good aspects and three not-so-good aspects of this book so you can make your own judgment about whether or not to read it, starting with a negative so we can end on a positive note. 🙂

Not-so-good

Lion King meme saying Everywhere the light touches is the pages of this book, but what's that shadowy place? That's the part of the book that isn't illustrated

In the second half of the book, the illustrations just kind of get forgotten about. The first half or so, you get illustrations on almost every single page and quite a few full-page ones at that, but then the amount of illustrations drops and you get only two full-page ones and none of the smaller ones that, up until that point, had been appearing consistently throughout the text.

Good

Is this a pigeon meme saying me working with kids, this book with its pretty pictures, is this a book my students would enjoy

The illustrations in this book are gorgeous and eye-catching. As someone who works with kids on a regular basis and reads a lot of picture books, these anime-esque illustrations will definitely draw kids into the story and get them interested, while helping them to understand more difficult concepts that they might have trouble understanding through text alone.

Not-so-good
Well yes actually no meme saying kids need to know the exact scientific definition of volcano, well yes, but actually no

Reading through the glossary, I felt like maybe the author didn’t know her audience, ex. giving them the definition of what a “volcano” is despite A) volcanoes never appearing in the book and B) kids in the target age range would probably already know what a volcano is without it needing to be defined. Or, in the same vein, defining what a “human” is.

Good

Look at all these easy to understand concepts presented in a kid-friendly way

Most of the concepts introduced in this book are presented in a format easy for kids to understand, and there’s a glossary in the back for more in-depth definitions and pronunciations of pretty much every scientific term in this book.

Not-so-good

This is a good introduction but kids need recommendations for other books and resources to learn more

For a book meant to introduce kids to the world of STEM, it would have been nice for there to be a bit at the end telling kids where they can go to learn more or recommended other books to pick up if they like science. Not even a note at the end– “If you’d like to learn more about the information presented in this book, ask your local librarian for books about evolution!”

The scientific method relies on peer review, other sources to confirm, yet the author doesn’t cite any sources she used to write this book (except one scientist she mentions in the acknowledgments) or give kids a list of other books they might enjoy to learn more about STEM.

Good

Say it again Dexter meme: Say it again, Corinne. This is a great book to introduce kids to evolutionary science

From what I, a liberal arts major who barely passed Introductory Biology for the GE credits, can tell, the information presented is all quite accurate and well-researched. Parents and teachers giving this book to their kids can be rest assured that, barring any new developments in the evolutionary science field that contradicts facts in this book (though one might assume that, should new information be released that contradicts this book, the author will release an updated edition to reflect that), the information presented in this book is accurate and aligned with what currently we know about our common ancestor and how natural selection works.

In summary:

A good book for older elementary kids (ages 8 – 12) who are interested in learning about evolution. I’m considering purchasing the paperback of this book and donating it to my school’s library so my students can read it, too.

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review:4.5-Stars

If you recall the book series, later brief cartoon series, and you perhaps enjoyed said series, then you will enjoy Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution. While this work, unsurprisingly discusses the more simplistic and less robust theory of natural selection — as opposed to sexual selection — it does so in a manner that is easily comprehendible & mentally digestible. Indeed, the pronunciation guide and definitions located in the back will ensure that grade school children will no doubt grasp the material that is the heart of the work. This is after all the major point to get children, girls especially, interested in science.

The book does well enough, even though it is a bit heavy-handed with this goal in places. Still, all in all, its intended audience isn’t like to find the book a chore, unless they surely hate reading, and odds are good that they’ll actually retain the knowledge.

I give this work 4.5 out of five.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

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