Shreeve, Elizabeth

Out of the Blue: How Animals Evolved from Prehistoric Seas

(2) K-3 Illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon. This account of evolution through Earth's history centers on life in and near the oceans, beginning with the emergence of single-celled microbes and continuing through cycles of growth and extinction to the present day. Shreeve adeptly communicates high-level scientific concepts in just a few paragraphs per page as she highlights key events in the transition from sea to land, including the separate emergences of arthropods (millipedes, crustaceans, and insects) and, later, lobe-finned fish, whose land- and sea-based descendants are familiar to us as reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Preston-Gannon's use of color in the friendly illustrations skillfully represents the climatic conditions in each major era: bright, multicolored spreads of tropical seas filled with animals represent periods of species growth and are interspersed with less hospitable, barren landscapes. The many animals portrayed within the spreads--most with stylized black dots for eyes, which help readers to locate them--are labeled with captions identifying the species and providing additional noteworthy facts. On the final pages, an inviting, colorful, and animal-dense illustration summarizes the entire timeline.


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