February 15, 2010

Loxton's Evolution, Again

I mentioned this book a couple of weeks ago and was happily surprised by a comment from Erin at Kids Can Press offering me a copy for review! Here's the book at their site.

When I used to work in those big book stores, I often had someone ask for a book on a specific subject. I'd take them over to that section and point them to a few titles. I could soon tell that they didn't really want to read a whole book on the subject, just the equivalent of a long magazine article. They wanted something introductory, but not for "dummies." (Those people are now probably hitting Wikipedia rather than the bookstore for this kind of thing). If they seemed like a person who was genuinely curious and wouldn't be offended by the suggestion, I would often show them the nonfiction section in the children's department. There are some great nonfiction writers for kids that adults can benefit from as well. Think Joy Hakim, for one example. Or Seymour Simon. Or Steve Jenkins. Or David MacAuley.

Now we have Daniel Loxton to add to this list. The book is so eye-catching, you can help but pick it up. Inside, you find perfectly clear and readable explanations for all of the main questions you might have. Even if you know the subject, sometimes it's hard to get that across to a younger or more inexperienced audience. Here's your book.

But the illustrations! They sell this. It's a combination of photography, line art, and 3D computer modeling. It's been on my desk this week and a few teachers have picked it up and practically started drooling at the imagery. "This is wild!"

There are people who say they don't "believe" in evolution. This is analogous to saying you don't "believe" in the atomic theory of matter, the gravitational theory, or the germ theory. You may not believe them either, but all those theories explain a large body of facts. Actually, there are more lines of evidence backing up the "theory" of evolution than those other well-established ideas. So let's call it a fact. It's far more likely that those that don't accept the fact of evolution simply don't understand it. Then, of course, there is the far more pernicious problem of "controversy." If it's controversial, many will avoid it. Hence the dearth of good, solid books on evolution for kids. Hence a large population of people who don't understand the concept.

Granted, it can be tough to explain something as far-reaching as evolution in a mere fifty pages. But Loxton has done it. He takes all the best examples and metaphors and answers all the basic questions. He covers an amazing amount of ground in such an accessible format.

So yes, it's highly recommended. Buy it here and you'll be supporting his work at the Skeptic's Society. He's been doing all kinds of amazing things for them and, since this is a hit (Last time I checked the Amazon sales rank it was in the 1400s and was the #1 children's nonfiction book about animals and the #1 children's book about fossils and #13 in science/evolution books!), we're sure to see more from him. I cant wait to see his book on Lake Monsters and maybe one on Aliens and all the fun things that go bump in the night.

Oh, and Dr. Donald Prothero (who has written one of the best books on evolution himself) consulted on the project. So this is the real deal. Enjoy!