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Grandmother Fish: A Child's First Book of Evolution
Book Cover Image of Grandmother fish.jpg
Hardcover of Grandmother Fish: A Child's First Book of Evolution
Author Jonathan Tweet
Illustrator Karen Lewis
Subject Evolution
Publisher Feiwel & Friends Macmillan
Publication date
September 6, 2016
Pages 40
ISBN 978-1250113238

Grandmother Fish: A Child's First Book of Evolution was written by Jonathan Tweet. The book explains Charles Darwin's theory of common descent and its target audience is 3–5-year-olds. It uses a call-and-response interaction between speaker and listener, where the child is asked to mimic the behavior of various animals from our evolutionary past. The book is illustrated by Karen Lewis with colored artwork. Grandmother Fish takes children and adults through the history of life on our planet and explains how we are connected.


The book includes additional reading aids:

  • An illustration of the evolutionary tree of life.
  • Science notes for parents.
  • How to explain natural selection to a child.

About the author

Jonathan Tweet, professionally a game designer, started working on this book in 2000. He was trying to figure out a way to teach the basics of evolution to little children. He felt a big breakthrough came when he incorporated expressive movements for the kids, such as having the kids crawl like a reptile or squeal like a mammal. Tweet said "My goal is to make evolution so adorable and attractive that kids want to believe it..My dream is that children will love the idea that we are descended from animals and that all living things are our family". Problems around language for toddlers was addressed through illustration “Nobody liked the verb ‘lactate.’ I had people tell me not to bring it up. But that's the defining thing that makes us mammals,” Tweet recalled. He was able to use the verb “cuddle” instead because Lewis's discreet illustration of a mother possum and her babies curled together in blissful circle suggests the babies are feeding." The illustrator, Karen Lewis, said she wanted the characters in the book to be scientifically accurate but also be colorful and have life.

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