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Evolution – and human evolution in particular – is a subject I think is often under represented in our culture. Schools typically talk about it no more than any other biological topic – despite the fact it’s the theory which holds the entire field together – and museums often only contain passing homages to the subject. Even the Natural History Museum in London, home of all things evolution, only has a handful of glass cases documenting our species’ history1.

That’s why I’m excited to tell you about Grandmother Fish; a book which promises to (partially) right this wrong. It’s the first of it’s kind: a book that introduces young children to evolution! Aimed at 2-3 year olds, this book traces the history of life, all the while showing how this has influenced our own bodies. It’s going on Kickstarter in a few weeks; but in the meantime you can download a free copy from the website. Print it off and show it to any 2-3 year olds you might know, the author is eager to here any feedback. Even if you don’t have ready access to small children, it’s worth checking out.

Note, the picture is a draft

Note, the picture is a draft

Personally, I’m interested to hear how people respond to it too. I teach people (including children) about human evolution at my local museum using a similar tactic. People are fascinated by their own bodies, so are normally very receptive to learning about them. From there it’s really easy to transition into talking about how body parts evolved, keeping their interest and making the story of evolution about them at the same time. Giving someone a chance to hold a femur, the biggest bone in the human body, is only a short hop from talking about the evolution of bipedalism and how it’s influenced their legs.

So here’s that link again: click it!


  1. Although currently they have a temporary exhibit documenting humans in Britain over the past million years. It’s top notch, and if you’re in London I’d recommend checking it out. 

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Categories: Creationism


Paul Braterman · 28th May 2014 at 2:44 pm

I really think the way to pre-empt creationism is to make evolution attractive, and fron as early an age as possible; I have already blogged on tihs at Evolution, the Horrible Science – antidote to creationism http://wp.me/p21T1L-eg

Immediate reaction: I like it, but the text for parents seems written at the reading level of a graduate; too many technical terms. It would be good to explain these terms. Also the misleading “apes evolved from monkeys”, as if monkeys had not themselves been evolving in the interim. More later

    Adam Benton · 28th May 2014 at 2:46 pm

    When you’re dealing with a condensed space like that I think you have to be a bit technical, just to get the information across. Ideally the parents bit would be expanded out; allowing more time to explain things.

    Send the author an email, as I said he’s looking for feedback.

Valters Grivins · 28th May 2014 at 3:10 pm

sorry, Adam, download of the book is of limited access:

Protected: Download
This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

    Adam Benton · 28th May 2014 at 3:13 pm

    That’s odd, I haven’t seen that screen or had anyone report it. Try going to the main website (grandmotherfish.com) and clicking through to the pdf from there.

      Wyrd Smythe · 28th May 2014 at 4:54 pm

      That screen is what you get if you click the “Download” link in the upper-right “menu bar”. The home page has a post with the link, and the direct PDF link works fine.


      Very cute! Wonderful, much needed, effort. I just wish I knew some two-thirds of a year olds…. 🙂

        Adam Benton · 28th May 2014 at 4:58 pm

        That’s meant to be 2-3 year old. Dolt, time for some editing

        Wyrd Smythe · 28th May 2014 at 5:01 pm

        Yeah, I figured, but couldn’t resist the gag. And I’m very grateful for the placement of the period and comma in your reply… 😀

        Adam Benton · 28th May 2014 at 5:28 pm

        Well I just found out I’ve been included in some creationist/Intelligent design meta-search engine for info on evolution, so gotta be extra careful

jonathantweet · 5th June 2014 at 10:08 pm

Thanks, Adam, for such a nice post.

Paul, it’s hard to explain evolution in simple terms, and evidently I could use some help. If there are particular bits that are too high-level, please let me know at [email protected].

Also, I removed the password protection from the download link.

The Kickstarter starts a week from Monday, June 16th. If you want to know more, check out the Skepticality podcast that releases Tuesday the 10th. Thanks everyone!


Sophie · 1st August 2015 at 10:02 am

I wanted this years ago. Although may be too technical for for 2-3 years………..parents don’t have to stick to text at that age, improvise. Therefore can benefit older children as well. My 8 and 5 year old children have a good understanding of evolution and read well but I would still buy this for them, great for consolidation and gives them a concise visual memory. Recognise doesn’t allow for different species of hominids evolving alongside etc but always best to start with basic simple concept and reader can elaborate if feels appropriate. Perhaps a note to parents at the back? Great illustrations too. Will test it on my children (8 and 5) and feedback their response. Love it.

    Adam Benton · 1st August 2015 at 10:06 pm

    The website I think has a new version of the book out, be sure to get the latest one! It has some pretty awesome illustrations

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