Today, February 15, UPS delivered a hardcover copy of my new book, The Sacred Depths of Nature: How Life Emerged and Evolved. It was the first time I’d held the real thing in my hands. What did I experience as I stood there on the porch? A very deep YES. I all but kissed the truck driver!
But I was to pick up my grandsons – Luca and Leo, ages 9 and 6 – from school, so I stuffed the book in my bag, and on the way home (they live next door) I took it out to show it to them. They were of course intrigued by the magnificent tortoise on the cover, and we talked about turtle/tortoise relationships using evolutionary frames. I then related that the tortoise lived on the Galapagos Islands in South America and told them about Darwin and the Beagle voyage and about how his understandings about evolution had been birthed there.
When we got home, this conversation prompted me to read aloud to Luca the wonderful trilogy of children’s books, written by Jennifer Morgan and beautifully illustrated by Dana Lynn Andersen, entitled Born With a Bang: Our Cosmic Story; From Lava to Life: Our Earth Story; and Mammals Who Morph: Our Evolution Story.The stories are “narrated” by the Universe itself, who brags about its achievements, an engaging trope that fosters flamboyant story telling. There are also fact-laden pages and references at the end. Luca was particularly engaged by the enormous lengths of time involved, which Jennifer lifts up beautifully.
When reading her books in the past, I had found myself tripping over the occasional places where the facts are misrepresented. But tonight, reading aloud to a child, I realized how dumb that was. What’s important is that kids absorb the big concepts inherent in the story, like Luca with the time concepts. Jennifer may well have concluded that the narrative flowed better in those places with some flexible use of the facts. That’s what storytellers do.
I encourage those of you with school-age kids in your life to consider introducing them to this trilogy, where reading it aloud is particularly effective. It closes with an unvarnished presentation of the current environmental situation, leading The Universe to conclude:
Yes, my dear humans. I’m relying on you to be heroes now! Working together with other Earthlings, you can turn this crisis into something magnificent – a New Earth – such as you’ve never seen before.
Jennifer gives a wonderful video of book 1, playing the Universe in a black cape, which is masterful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bnrOYcw5vs&t=34s
And coming full circle, if you have teen/college kids in your life, you might want to consider giving them a copy of The Sacred Depths of Nature: How Life Emerged and Evolved, where the facts are aligned. If so, the Newsletter is providing a 30% discount offer from Oxford University Press.