As part of my writing process, I read dozens of books by other nonfiction authors. When I read, I make notes about the craft choices authors make in terms of voice, structure, POV, and other unique elements that add up to amazing books. I recently decided to share my notes (in a searchable format), so teachers and fellow writers can see what I find new and noteworthy. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Author: Isabel Thomas; illustrator: Daniel Egnéus
Publication Info.: Bloomsbury (June 2019)
Ages/Grades: 6 to 10 years old
Categories: third-person POV, lyrical language, narrative nonfiction, nature, #STEM
“This is a story of light and dark. Of change and adaptation, or survival and hope.”
Overview (from the publisher): “Powerful and visually spectacular, Moth is the remarkable evolution story that captures the struggle of animal survival against the background of an evolving human world in a unique and atmospheric introduction to Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection.
Against a lush backdrop of lichen-covered trees, the peppered moth lies hidden. Until the world begins to change…
Along come people with their magnificent machines which stain the land with soot. In a beautiful landscape changed by humans how will one little moth survive?
A clever picture book text about the extraordinary way in which animals have evolved, intertwined with the complication of human intervention. This remarkable retelling of the story of the peppered moth is the perfect introduction to natural selection and evolution for children.”
What’s noteworthy for authors and educators:
There have been a few evolution picture books in recent years like I USED TO BE A FISH (Sullivan) and GRANDMOTHER FISH (Tweet and Lewis). But as far as I know, no one’s attempted to explain natural selection, the mechanism of evolution, at the elementary school level…until now.
Through stunning illustrations and simple, lyrical language, Thomas and Egnéus show students how natural selection happens over time in response to changes in an animal’s habitat. As a mentor text, the great power in this book is the balance of words and pictures. It forces authors to consider how much they can rely upon illustrations to carry the story. And how much they need to explain.
Additional resources for authors, educators, and parents:
- Teaching NGSS standards on diversity, adaptation, and evolution? Integrate this book into your lesson.
- The Center for Literacy in Primary Education has crafted a teachers’ guide.
- The Concord Consortium has an online natural selection simulation that uses rabbits to illustrate the concept for elementary school students.
- The NSTA also has a simulation for middle school students.
- Want to learn more about Charles Darwin? DK provides a brief overview.