Our Family Tree: an Evolution Story

Lisa Westberg Peters, illus. Lauren Stringer
Harcourt Children's Books, April 2003.
48 pages, all ages. ISBN: 0152017720

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. Full-color illustrations

  • 2004 Riverbank Review Book of Distinction
  • 2004 Minnesota Book Award
  • 2004 PEN Center USA Literary Award finalist

This book appears on a Banned/Challenged Book List

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.

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