Grandmother Fish is Brilliant


Grandmother Fish: a child’s first book of evolution by Jonathan Tweet and illustrated by Karen Lewis (2015, Feiwel and Friends) is a brilliant introduction to evolution for young readers. Tweet manages to get this difficult concept across with a mix of illustration and engaging, yet simple text, and in the process shows readers how we are connected to all life. Tweet pulls the reader in with questions asking if we also chomp, wiggle and breathe. However, these questions change from simple animal behaviors, which we do partake in, to behaviors children might more readily associate with humans as the story unveils our evolutionary tree, making the connections stronger.

Readers as young as four or five will be able to grasp this difficult concept, making later lessons in school and life easier to understand. I feel such understanding is crucial to our ability to feel grounded in life, to understand our niche, and to promote kindness toward each other and the conservation of nature and systems that sustain life on our planet.

Grandmother Fish can help any parent who understands the value of explaining evolution, but feels stuck about where to begin. It makes a beautiful foundation for further exploration. The back matter includes ways to talk about the book with children and explains some common misconceptions of humans.

Jonathan Tweet’s Grandmother Fish is an ambitious project and he tackled it brilliantly. Every child should have a chance to read this book.


There’s Always Space for an Anywhere Farm


Summer is the perfect time to plant an Anywhere Farm and Phyllis Root and G. Brian Karas have teamed up to show us how, no matter where you live, in their new picture book Anywhere Farm (2017, Candlewick Press). With delightful rhyme, Root gives instructions on the how, what and where to plant. Kids will love the silly suggestions for plantings, and even if some are dubious (the tuba) from a success standpoint, there’s no doubt that readers will be itching to get their hands in the dirt after reading this story.

I love how Root starts with one child planting a plant and ends with a whole community garden. Then on the last page, we are treated to a second ending, which also makes the story circular; a technique kids love. This story is brilliant in its construction and delightful in its rhyming text. Karas’ mixed media illustrations are full of detail and emotion that invite the reader to linger on the page.

Anywhere Farm is perfect for a quiet reading session as well as perfect inspiration for getting outside and active with a garden…anywhere!