Darwin, evolution & science books for holiday gift giving (2020)

This is a great time of the year to gift science books to family and friends, or even yourself – axial tilt is the reason for the season, after all (or, in the case of some of these titles, a purchase request to your public or school library). Here are some recent books about Darwin, evolution, and related topics:

Darwins Historical Sketch: An Examination of the ‘Preface’ to the Origin of Species by Curtis N. Johnson (Oxford University Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “Charles Darwin’s ‘Historical Sketch’ has appeared as a preface to nearly every authorized edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species since the second English edition was published in 1860. The ‘Historical Sketch’ provides a brief history of opinion about the species question as a prelude to Darwin’s own independent contribution to the subject, but its provenance is somewhat obscure. While some previous thinkers anticipated portions of Darwin’s theory long before he did, none of them saw the complete picture as clearly as Darwin. As such, he was able to claim originality and priority for the idea that has transformed our understanding of nature. His ‘Historical Sketch’ was written as an attempt to address these issues. Some things are known about its production, such as when it first appeared and what changes were made to it between its first appearance in 1860 and its final form in 1866. Other questions remain unanswered. How did it evolve in Darwin’s mind? Why did he write it at all? What did he think he was accomplishing by prefacing it to Origin of Species? Curtis Johnson approaches these questions, offering some clarity on the originality of Darwin’s work. Darwin’s ‘Historical Sketch’ is the first comprehensive study of Darwin’s ‘Preface’ to Origin of Species. Johnson conveys the pressure Darwin felt from friends and other correspondents to showcase the originality of his theory, and he tackles questions of originality by carefully examining the 35 authors Darwin referenced in this monumental text.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider: How Scientific Names Celebrate Adventurers, Heroes, and Even a Few Scoundrels by Stephen B. Heard (Yale University Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “Ever since Carl Linnaeus’s binomial system of scientific names was adopted in the eighteenth century, scientists have been eponymously naming organisms in ways that both honor and vilify their namesakes. This charming, informative, and accessible history examines the fascinating stories behind taxonomic nomenclature, from Linnaeus himself naming a small and unpleasant weed after a rival botanist to the recent influx of scientific names based on pop-culture icons—including David Bowie’s spider, Frank Zappa’s jellyfish, and Beyoncé’s fly. Exploring the naming process as an opportunity for scientists to express themselves in creative ways, Stephen B. Heard’s fresh approach shows how scientific names function as a window into both the passions and foibles of the scientific community and as a more general indicator of the ways in which humans relate to, and impose order on, the natural world.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Darwin’s Corals: A New Model of Evolution and the Tradition of Natural History by Horst Bredekamp (De Gruyter, 2019). Publisher’s description: “To this day Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory of the ‘survival of the fittest’ has been visualized with the universal model of a tree of life. But early on in Darwin’s thinking the coral provided a fascinating alternative to the tree as a depiction of the evolution of the species. Horst Bredekamp shows how Darwin, a coral enthusiast and collector, found in it a more adequate illustration of evolution through natural selection: It grows anarchically in all directions and no longer upholds mankind as the ‘crown of creation.’ Using this example Darwin is proving himself to be both a destroyer and consummator of traditional natural philosophy. Since antiquity the coral had been a symbol of nature as a whole.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

The Scientific Method: An Evolution of Thinking from Darwin to Dewey by Henry M. Cowles (Harvard University Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “The idea of a single scientific method, shared across specialties and teachable to ten-year-olds, is just over a hundred years old. For centuries prior, science had meant a kind of knowledge, made from facts gathered through direct observation or deduced from first principles. But during the nineteenth century, science came to mean something else: a way of thinking. The Scientific Method tells the story of how this approach took hold in laboratories, the field, and eventually classrooms, where science was once taught as a natural process. Henry M. Cowles reveals the intertwined histories of evolution and experiment, from Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection to John Dewey’s vision for science education. Darwin portrayed nature as akin to a man of science, experimenting through evolution, while his followers turned his theory onto the mind itself. Psychologists reimagined the scientific method as a problem-solving adaptation, a basic feature of cognition that had helped humans prosper. This was how Dewey and other educators taught science at the turn of the twentieth century—but their organic account was not to last. Soon, the scientific method was reimagined as a means of controlling nature, not a product of it. By shedding its roots in evolutionary theory, the scientific method came to seem far less natural, but far more powerful. This book reveals the origin of a fundamental modern concept. Once seen as a natural adaptation, the method soon became a symbol of science’s power over nature, a power that, until recently, has rarely been called into question.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Catastrophic Thinking: Extinction and the Value of Diversity from Darwin to the Anthropocene by David Sepkoski (University of Chicago Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “We live in an age in which we are repeatedly reminded—by scientists, by the media, by popular culture—of the looming threat of mass extinction. We’re told that human activity is currently producing a sixth mass extinction, perhaps of even greater magnitude than the five previous geological catastrophes that drastically altered life on Earth. Indeed, there is a very real concern that the human species may itself be poised to go the way of the dinosaurs, victims of the most recent mass extinction some 65 million years ago. How we interpret the causes and consequences of extinction and their ensuing moral imperatives is deeply embedded in the cultural values of any given historical moment. And, as David Sepkoski reveals, the history of scientific ideas about extinction over the past two hundred years—as both a past and a current process—is implicated in major changes in the way Western society has approached biological and cultural diversity. It seems self-evident to most of us that diverse ecosystems and societies are intrinsically valuable, but the current fascination with diversity is a relatively recent phenomenon. In fact, the way we value diversity depends crucially on our sense that it is precarious—that it is something actively threatened, and that its loss could have profound consequences. In Catastrophic Thinking, Sepkoski uncovers how and why we learned to value diversity as a precious resource at the same time as we learned to think catastrophically about extinction. Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA by Neil Shubin (Pantheon, 2020). Publisher’s description: “Over billions of years, ancient fish evolved to walk on land, reptiles transformed into birds that fly, and apelike primates evolved into humans that walk on two legs, talk, and write. For more than a century, paleontologists have traveled the globe to find fossils that show how such changes have happened. We have now arrived at a remarkable moment—prehistoric fossils coupled with new DNA technology have given us the tools to answer some of the basic questions of our existence: How do big changes in evolution happen? Is our presence on Earth the product of mere chance? This new science reveals a multibillion-year evolutionary history filled with twists and turns, trial and error, accident and invention. In Some Assembly Required, Neil Shubin takes readers on a journey of discovery spanning centuries, as explorers and scientists seek to understand the origins of life’s immense diversity.” Review by Paul Braterman. Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

The Story of Evolution in 25 Discoveries: The Evidence and the People Who Found It by Donald R. Prothero (Columbia UP, 2020). Publisher’s description: “In The Story of Evolution in 25 Discoveries, Donald R. Prothero explores the most fascinating breakthroughs in piecing together the evidence for evolution. In twenty-five vignettes, he recounts the dramatic stories of the people who made crucial discoveries, placing each moment in the context of what it represented for the progress of science. He tackles topics like what it means to see evolution in action and what the many transitional fossils show us about evolution, following figures from Darwin to lesser-known researchers as they unlock the mysteries of the fossil record, the earth, and the universe. The book also features the stories of animal species strange and familiar, including humans―and our ties to some of our closest relatives and more distant cousins. Prothero’s wide-ranging tales showcase awe-inspiring and bizarre aspects of nature and the powerful insights they give us into the way that life works.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel. 40th Anniversary Edition by Julia Voss and Rainer Willman (TASCHEN, 2020). Publisher’s description: “Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) was a German-born biologist, naturalist, evolutionist, artist, philosopher, and doctor who spent his life researching flora and fauna from the highest mountaintops to the deepest ocean. A vociferous supporter and developer of Darwin’s theories of evolution, he denounced religious dogma, authored philosophical treatises, gained a doctorate in zoology, and coined scientific terms which have passed into common usage, including ecology, phylum, and stem cell. At the heart of Haeckel’s colossal legacy was the motivation not only to discover but also to explain. To do this, he created hundreds of detailed drawings, watercolors, and sketches of his findings which he published in successive volumes, including several marine organism collections and the majestic Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms in Nature), which could serve as the cornerstone of Haeckel’s entire life project. Like a meticulous visual encyclopedia of living things, Haeckel’s work was as remarkable for its graphic precision and meticulous shading as for its understanding of organic evolution. From bats to the box jellyfish, lizards to lichen, and spider legs to sea anemones, Haeckel emphasized the essential symmetries and order of nature, and found biological beauty in even the most unlikely of creatures. In this book, we celebrate the scientific, artistic, and environmental importance of Haeckel’s work, with a collection of 300 of his finest prints from several of his most important tomes, including Die Radiolarien, Monographie der Medusen, Die Kalkschwämme, and Kunstformen der Natur. At a time when biodiversity is increasingly threatened by human activities, the book is at once a visual masterwork, an underwater exploration, and a vivid reminder of the precious variety of life. Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Great Adaptations: Star-Nosed Moles, Electric Eels, and Other Tales of Evolution’s Mysteries Solved by Kenneth Catania (Princeton UP, 2020). Publisher’s description: “From star-nosed moles that have super-sensing snouts to electric eels that paralyze their prey, animals possess unique and extraordinary abilities. In Great Adaptations, Kenneth Catania presents an entertaining and engaging look at some of nature’s most remarkable creatures. Telling the story of his biological detective work, Catania sheds light on the mysteries behind the behaviors of tentacled snakes, tiny shrews, zombie-making wasps, and more. He shows not only how studying these animals can provide deep insights into how life evolved, but also how scientific discovery can be filled with adventure and fun. Beginning with the star-nosed mole, Catania reveals what the creature’s nasal star is actually for, and what this tells us about how brains work. He explores how the deceptive hunting strategy of tentacled snakes leads prey straight to their mouths, how eels use electricity to control other animals, and why emerald jewel wasps make zombies out of cockroaches. He also solves the enigma of worm grunting—a traditional technique in which earthworms are enticed out of the ground—by teaming up with professional worm grunters. Catania demonstrates the merits of approaching science with an open mind, considers the role played by citizen scientists, and illustrates that most animals have incredible, hidden abilities that defy our imagination. Examining some strange and spectacular creatures, Great Adaptations offers a wondrous journey into nature’s grand designs.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

A Series of Fortunate Events: Chance and the Making of the Planet, Life, and You by Sean B. Carroll (Princeton UP, 2020). Publisher’s description: “Why is the world the way it is? How did we get here? Does everything happen for a reason or are some things left to chance? Philosophers and theologians have pondered these questions for millennia, but startling scientific discoveries over the past half century are revealing that we live in a world driven by chance. A Series of Fortunate Events tells the story of the awesome power of chance and how it is the surprising source of all the beauty and diversity in the living world. Like every other species, we humans are here by accident. But it is shocking just how many things—any of which might never have occurred—had to happen in certain ways for any of us to exist. From an extremely improbable asteroid impact, to the wild gyrations of the Ice Age, to invisible accidents in our parents’ gonads, we are all here through an astonishing series of fortunate events. And chance continues to reign every day over the razor-thin line between our life and death. This is a relatively small book about a really big idea. It is also a spirited tale. Drawing inspiration from Monty Python, Kurt Vonnegut, and other great thinkers, and crafted by one of today’s most accomplished science storytellers, A Series of Fortunate Events is an irresistibly entertaining and thought-provoking account of one of the most important but least appreciated facts of life.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Dinner with Darwin: Food, Drink, and Evolution by Jonathan Silvertown (University of Chicago Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “What do eggs, flour, and milk have in common? They form the basis of waffles, of course, but these staples of breakfast bounty also share an evolutionary function: eggs, seeds (from which we derive flour by grinding), and milk have each evolved to nourish offspring. Indeed, ponder the genesis of your breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and you’ll soon realize that everything we eat and drink has an evolutionary history. In Dinner with Darwin, join Jonathan Silvertown for a multicourse meal of evolutionary gastronomy, a tantalizing tour of human taste that helps us to understand the origins of our diets and the foods that have been central to them for millennia—from spices to spirits. A delectable concoction of coevolution and cookery, gut microbiomes and microherbs, and both the chicken and its egg, Dinner with Darwin reveals that our shopping lists, recipe cards, and restaurant menus don’t just contain the ingredients for culinary delight. They also tell a fascinating story about natural selection and its influence on our plates—and palates. Digging deeper, Silvertown’s repast includes entrées into GMOs and hybrids, and looks at the science of our sensory interactions with foods and cooking—the sights, aromas, and tastes we experience in our kitchens and dining rooms. As is the wont of any true chef, Silvertown packs his menu with eclectic components, dishing on everything from Charles Darwin’s intestinal maladies to taste bud anatomy and turducken. Our evolutionary relationship with food and drink stretches from the days of cooking cave dwellers to contemporary crêperies and beyond, and Dinner with Darwin serves up scintillating insight into the entire, awesome span. This feast of soup, science, and human society is one to savor. With a wit as dry as a fine pinot noir and a cache of evolutionary knowledge as vast as the most discerning connoisseur’s wine cellar, Silvertown whets our appetites—and leaves us hungry for more.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

L: 50 Objects, Stories & Discoveries from the Linnean Society of London (Linnean Society, 2020). Publisher’s description: “Spanning centuries, the Linnean Society of London’s collections and library are home to many ‘firsts’, as well as numerous unique items of scientific importance, and a plethora of stunning illustrations, plates and original drawings. For the first time, a selection of these items are being showcased in our own book of ‘treasures’, L: 50 Objects, Stories and Discoveries from The Linnean Society of London. From the vasculum Charles Darwin used to collect plants during his voyage on the HMS Beagle…to the first ‘photographic’ book by Anna Atkins…to the world’s first spherical cultured pearls, there is much to explore in L: 50 Objects, Stories and Discoveries from The Linnean Society of London; some new discoveries were even made in the process of writing this book. From amongst our wonderful collections, curators, researchers, archivists, librarians and Fellows have chosen 50 iconic objects, stories and discoveries—items that tell the story of the study of natural history through the ages, and the intriguing story of the Society itself.” Order from the Linnean Society.

The Scientific Spirit of American Humanism by Stephen P. Weldon (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “Recent polls show that a quarter of Americans claim to have no religious affiliation, identifying instead as atheists, agnostics, or ‘nothing in particular.’ A century ago, a small group of American intellectuals who dubbed themselves humanists tread this same path, turning to science as a major source of spiritual sustenance. In The Scientific Spirit of American Humanism, Stephen P. Weldon tells the fascinating story of this group as it developed over the twentieth century, following the fortunes of a few generations of radical ministers, academic philosophers, and prominent scientists who sought to replace traditional religion with a modern, liberal, scientific outlook. Weldon explores humanism through the networks of friendships and institutional relationships that underlay it, from philosophers preaching in synagogues and ministers editing articles of Nobel laureates to magicians invoking the scientific method. Examining the development of an increasingly antagonistic engagement between religious conservatives and the secular culture of the academy, Weldon explains how this conflict has shaped the discussion of science and religion in American culture. He also uncovers a less known—but equally influential—story about the conflict within humanism itself between two very different visions of science: an aspirational, democratic outlook held by the followers of John Dewey on the one hand, and a skeptical, combative view influenced by logical positivism on the other. Putting America’s distinctive science talk into historical perspective, Weldon shows how events such as the Pugwash movement for nuclear disarmament, the ongoing evolution controversies, the debunking of pseudo-science, and the selection of scientists and popularizers like Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov as humanist figureheads all fit a distinctly American ethos. Weldon maintains that this secular ethos gained much of its influence by tapping into the idealism found in the American radical religious tradition that includes the deism of Thomas Paine, nineteenth-century rationalism and free thought, Protestant modernism, and most important, Unitarianism. Drawing on archival research, interviews, and a thorough study of the main humanist publications, The Scientific Spirit of American Humanism reveals a new level of detail about the personal and institutional forces that have shaped major trends in American secular culture. Significantly, the book shows why special attention to American liberal religiosity remains critical to a clear understanding of the scientific spirit in American culture.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Creationism USA: Bridging the Impasse on Teaching Evolution by Adam Laats (Oxford University Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “Who are America’s creationists? What do they want? Do they truly believe Jesus rode around on dinosaurs, as sometimes depicted? Creationism USA reveals how common misconceptions about creationism have led Americans into a century of unnecessary culture-war histrionics about evolution education and creationism. Adam Laats argues that Americans do not have deep, fundamental disagreements about evolution – not about the actual science behind it and not in ways that truly matter to public policy. Laats asserts that Americans do, however, have significant disagreements about creationism. By describing the history of creationism and its many variations, Laats demonstrates that the real conflict about evolution is not between creationists and evolution. The true landscape of American creationism is far more complicated than headlines suggest. Creationism USA digs beyond those headlines to prove two fundamental facts about American creationism. First, almost all Americans can be classified as creationists of one type or another. Second, nearly all Americans (including self-identified creationists) want their children to learn mainstream evolutionary science. Taken together, these truths about American creationism point to a large and productive middle ground, a widely shared public vision of the proper relationship between schools, science, and religion. Creationism USA both explains the current state of America’s battles over creationism and offers a nuanced yet straight-forward prescription to solve them.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

History Within: The Science, Culture, and Politics of Bones, Organisms, and Molecules by Marianne Sommer (University of Chicago Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “Personal genomics services such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com now offer what once was science fiction: the ability to sequence and analyze an individual’s entire genetic code—promising, in some cases, facts about that individual’s ancestry that may have remained otherwise lost. Such services draw on and contribute to the science of human population genetics that attempts to reconstruct the history of humankind, including the origin and movement of specific populations. Is it true, though, that who we are and where we come from is written into the sequence of our genomes? Are genes better documents for determining our histories and identities than fossils or other historical sources? Our interpretation of gene sequences, like our interpretation of other historical evidence, inevitably tells a story laden with political and moral values. Focusing on the work of Henry Fairfield Osborn, Julian Sorell Huxley, and Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza in paleoanthropology, evolutionary biology, and human population genetics, History Within asks how the sciences of human origins, whether through the museum, the zoo, or the genetics lab, have shaped our idea of what it means to be human. How have these biologically based histories influenced our ideas about nature, society, and culture? As Marianne Sommer shows, the stories we tell about bones, organisms, and molecules often change the world.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

The Genesis Quest: The Geniuses and Eccentrics on a Journey to Uncover the Origin of Life on Earth by Michael Marshall (University of Chicago Press, 2020). Pub;isher’s description: “How did life begin? Why are we here? These are some of the most profound questions we can ask. For almost a century, a small band of eccentric scientists has struggled to answer these questions and explain one of the greatest mysteries of all: how and why life began on Earth. There are many different proposals, and each idea has attracted passionate believers who promote it with an almost religious fervor, as well as detractors who reject it with equal passion. But the quest to unravel life’s genesis is not just a story of big ideas. It is also a compelling human story, rich in personalities, conflicts, and surprising twists and turns. Along the way the journey takes in some of the greatest discoveries in modern biology, from evolution and cells to DNA and life’s family tree. It is also a search whose end may finally be in sight. In The Genesis Quest, Michael Marshall shows how the quest to understand life’s beginning is also a journey to discover the true nature of life, and by extension our place in the universe.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Pragmatism’s Evolution: Organism and Environment in American Philosophy by Trevor Pearce (University of Chicago Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “In Pragmatism’s Evolution, Trevor Pearce demonstrates that the philosophical tradition of pragmatism owes an enormous debt to specific biological debates in the late 1800s, especially those concerning the role of the environment in development and evolution. Many are familiar with John Dewey’s 1909 assertion that evolutionary ideas overturned two thousand years of philosophy—but what exactly happened in the fifty years prior to Dewey’s claim? What form did evolutionary ideas take? When and how were they received by American philosophers? Although the various thinkers associated with pragmatism—from Charles Sanders Peirce to Jane Addams and beyond—were towering figures in American intellectual life, few realize the full extent of their engagement with the life sciences. In his analysis, Pearce focuses on a series of debates in biology from 1860 to 1910—from the instincts of honeybees to the inheritance of acquired characteristics—in which the pragmatists were active participants. If we want to understand the pragmatists and their influence, Pearce argues, we need to understand the relationship between pragmatism and biology.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

When Darwin Sailed the Sea: Uncover How Darwin’s Revolutionary Ideas Helped Change the World by David Long and illustrated by Sam Kalda (Wide Eyed Editions, 2020, 80 pp.). Publisher’s description: “Published to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the launch of the HMS Beagle, this beautifully illustrated narrative nonfiction book tells the story of Charles Darwin, and shows how his revolutionary research changed the world forever. At the age of 22, Charles Darwin clambered up the steps of HMS Beagle armed with enough notepads to last him for several years and set sail on a journey of exploration that would change his life and how we view the entire world forever. ‘The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event of my life and has determined my whole career.’ From his fascination with the natural world that began at an early age, his love of collecting new specimens, and keen eye for observation to his groundbreaking theory of evolution, uncover the incredible life of Charles Darwin in this fascinating story of his life. At the back of the book, explore a selection of the amazing species he discovered, concise profiles of some of the incredible people who helped Darwin on his path to becoming a groundbreaking scientist, a glossary of terms, and a timeline of Darwin’s life and career. When Darwin Sailed the Sea is the perfect book for any child who has ever looked at the world and asked ‘why.'” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Darwin’s Rival: Alfred Russel Wallace and the Search for Evolution by Christiane Dorion and illustrated by Harry Tennant (Candlewick Studio, 2020). Publisher’s description: “A beautifully illustrated volume follows a lesser-known Victorian naturalist and explorer on his global journeys — and reveals how he developed his own theory of evolution. Everyone knows Charles Darwin, the famous naturalist who proposed a theory of evolution. But not everyone knows the story of Alfred Russel Wallace, Darwin’s friend and rival who simultaneously discovered the process of natural selection. This sumptuously illustrated book tells Wallace’s story, from his humble beginnings to his adventures in the Amazon rain forest and Malay Archipelago, and demonstrates the great contribution he made to one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time.” Video with author discussing Wallace and this book. Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Fossils for Kids: A Junior Scientist’s Guide to Dinosaur Bones, Ancient Animals, and Prehistoric Life on Earth by Ashley Hall (Rockridge Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “Set off on an amazing adventure into the prehistoric past when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Fossils for Kids is filled with fascinating photographs and captivating facts that will teach junior fossil hunters how fossils form, where they are found, and tips on how to identify them. Start by learning more about some of your favorite dinosaurs―from Velociraptor to Tyrannosaurus rex―and where you can see the coolest dinosaur skeletons. Then discover the creatures that predate even the dinosaurs! You’ll meet famous birds, like the Archaeopteryx, explore tiny invertebrate trilobites, and learn which ancient plant is the source of a delicious drink―root beer! It’s time to unearth your scientific curiosity―there’s no telling what you’ll find using Fossils for Kids as your guide.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Did You See that Dinosaur?: Search the Page, Find the Dinosaur in a Fact-Filled Adventure by Riley Black and illustrated by Scott Koblish (Rockridge Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “Have you ever wanted to see a real, live dinosaur? Kid paleontologists Ava and Mateo set their time machine to the Mesozoic Era―and they want you to come, too! Unearth the lost items in this search and find book for kids as you time travel through the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous Periods. From the lizard-munching Plateosaurus to the insect-eating Caelestiventus, learn everything about super cool and super huge dinosaurs and reptiles, as well as what the world was like millions of years ago. Solve the mysteries and make amazing discoveries in the wonderful age of dinosaurs.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Dinosaurs: How We Know What We Know by Mary Higby Schweitzer, Elena Rita Schroeter, and Charles Doug Czajka (CRC Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “This textbook introduces research on dinosaurs by describing the science behind how we know what we know about dinosaurs. A wide range of topics is covered, from fossils and taphonomy to dinosaur physiology, evolution, and extinction. In addition, sedimentology, paleo-tectonics, and non-dinosaurian Mesozoic life are discussed. There is a special opportunity to capitalize on the enthusiasm for dinosaurs that students bring to classrooms to foster a deeper engagement in all sciences. Students are encouraged to synthesize information, employ critical thinking, construct hypotheses, devise methods to test these hypotheses, and come to new defensible conclusions, just as paleontologists do.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future by David Attenborough (Grand Central Publishing, 2020). Publisher’s description: “See the world. Then make it better. I am 93. I’ve had an extraordinary life. It’s only now that I appreciate how extraordinary. As a young man, I felt I was out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world – but it was an illusion. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day — the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity. I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake — and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right. We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited. All we need is the will to do so.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans by Sylvia Earle (Texas A&M University Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “In 1952, at age sixteen, Sylvia Earle—then a budding marine biologist—borrowed a friend’s copper diving helmet, compressor, and pump and slipped below the waters of a Florida river. It was her first underwater dive. Since then, Earle has descended to more than 3,000 feet in a submersible and, despite beginning at a time when few women were taken seriously as marine scientists, has led or participated in expeditions totaling more than 7,000 hours underwater, and counting. Equal parts memoir, adventure tale, and call to action, Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans has become a classic of environmental literature, at once the gripping adventure story of Earle’s three decades of undersea exploration, an insider’s introduction to the dynamic field of marine biology, and an urgent plea for the preservation of the world’s fragile and rapidly deteriorating ocean ecosystems. Featuring a gallery of color photographs and a new preface by Earle, this new edition of Sea Change arrives at a uniquely pivotal time when its message is needed more than ever before. She writes, ‘I want to share the exhilaration of discovery, and convey a sense of urgency about the need for all of us to use whatever talents and resources we have to continue to explore and understand the nature of this extraordinary ocean planet.’ Her message is clear: how we treat the oceans now will determine the future health of the planet—and our species.” Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Naturalist: A Graphic Adaptation by Edward O. Wilson, adapted by Jim Ottaviani, and illustrated by C. M. Butzer (Island Press, 2020). Publisher’s description: “Regarded as one of the world’s preeminent biologists, Edward O. Wilson spent his boyhood exploring the forests and swamps of south Alabama and the Florida panhandle, collecting snakes, butterflies, and ants—the latter to become his lifelong specialty. His memoir Naturalist, called ‘one of the finest scientific memoirs ever written’ by the Los Angeles Times, is an inspiring account of Wilson’s growth as a scientist and the evolution of the fields he helped define. This graphic edition, adapted by New York Times bestselling comics writer Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by C. M. Butzer, brings Wilson’s childhood and celebrated career to life through dynamic full-color illustrations and Wilson’s own lyric writing. In this adaptation of Naturalist, vivid illustrations draw readers in to Wilson’s lifelong quest to explore and protect the natural world. His success began not with an elite education but an insatiable curiosity about Earth’s wild creatures, and this new edition of Naturalist makes Wilson’s work accessible for anyone who shares his passion. On every page, striking art adds immediacy and highlights the warmth and sense of humor that sets Wilson’s writing apart. Naturalist was written as an invitation—a reminder that curiosity is vital and scientific exploration is open to all of us. Each dynamic frame of this graphic adaptation deepens Wilson’s message, renewing his call to discover and celebrate the little things of the world.” Video about the book (featuring Wilson). Order: Publisher | Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Also have a look at the these book posts from the last couple of years, here, here, here, here, and here.

[Please note that all links to Amazon are affiliate links]

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