cover image Charlie and Kiwi: An Evolutionary Adventure

Charlie and Kiwi: An Evolutionary Adventure

Eileen Campbell, illus. by Peter H. Reynolds and FableVision. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4424-2112-7

When Charlie decides to research the unique kiwi bird for a school report, he is launched on a time-travel adventure that delves into the underpinnings of evolutionary theory. First stop in his makeshift time machine is 1860, to meet Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandpa Charles (Darwin, it's assumed). The two visit the first kiwis in New Zealand, then feathered dinosaurs 150 million years ago, before returning to the present. "Peering out the window, Charlie and Grandpa Charles watched the world change. There were more feathered dinosaurs in each generation. They had more feathers, longer feathers, stiffer feathers." While some plot devices are gimmicky or fall flat (Grandpa Charles's witticisms about needing dinner; Charlie's stuffed kiwi spearheading the time travel, yelling "Keee-weee! Keee-weee!"), the story's fast-paced narrative and cartoon vignettes do a commendable job of explaining how small adaptations over time lead to evolution. The book was written as a companion to an exhibit at the New York Hall of Science, and flap copy directs readers to a Web site with an animated version of the story, games, and other resources and information. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (June)