One of my favorite parts about running this blog has been all the fun new books I’ve discovered that I had never seen before, mostly while browsing on my Twitter and Instagram accounts. That’s how I first came across the Annabelle & Aiden series, a line of children’s books (written by J. R. Becker and illustrated by Max Rambaldi) dedicated to inspiring a new generation of scientists, thinkers, and all-around adventurers! Many of their books touch on aspects of prehistory and evolution, so I’ve wanted to feature them here ever since coming across their social media accounts. In a bit of post-holiday spirit, Annabelle & Aiden has made the Kindle versions of their books available to everyone for free this weekend (promotion ends Monday night, sorry to my readers who find this post too late)! This seemed like the perfect opportunity to me, so I figured I’d do at least one review as quickly as I could so my readers had a chance to take advantage of the promotion, too.
Six titles are currently available: The Story of Life (the subject of today’s review), Oh The Things We Believed!, Worlds WIthin Us, What Happens When We Die?, Sapiens: Our Human Evolution, and This World Was Made For Me (my review of which you can read here).
The Story of Life begins with the titular characters Annabelle & Aiden staring down into a calm pond. Annabelle begins wondering aloud about herself, and how the human body came to be. A wise owl overhears them, and educates them on the history of life, starting from the first cells that appeared in the aftermath of the formation of the earth, all the way to all the creatures we see today, including humans.
Rambaldi’s illustrates the book in a lovely watercolor style, with occasional photographs added into certain collage-like pictures. I loved the paintings depicting the history of life, with generalized portrayals of the species along the way. I’m always a sucker for especially artsy “tree of life” illustrations, such as the one at the end of this book. While cute and imaginative, I feel like I must point out that, among other things, the giraffe with butterfly wings in the collage of possible future evolution could be seen as playing into creationist stereotypes about evolution. While this is clearly not the illustration’s intent and I don’t feel like turning it into a strike against the book, I recommend keeping this in mind when sharing this book with others.
Becker writes in an engaging manner, with rhyming prose that gives the story a really nice flow. It makes for a very enjoyable read, and makes it easier for the reader to absorb the details. Though they’re not actually that similar, and pitched to different age ranges, I can’t help draw a comparison to Grandmother Fish. They are both excellent title for their respective age ranges, and any child who has cut their teeth on Grandmother Fish will enjoy graduating up to The Story of Life. If I’m perfectly honest, I feel the former book sticks in my mind a little better overall, though in all likelihood that probably has as much to do with its simpler format as anything else.
I should warn readers that it can be a little hard to read in ebook format unless you can zoom in on the text. It’s not so bad reading it on my computer, but I note that some customer reviews mention having trouble reading it on their Kindle’s. This issue of course does not apply to physical copies.
Annabelle & Aiden‘s The Story of Life is an excellent children’s book on the story of evolutionary history, told with engaging prose and lovely illustrations. I highly recommend it to families eager to learn more about the subject. I find it especially effective if used as a follow-up to Grandmother Fish, as the two books compliment each other nicely. Be sure to follow Annabelle & Aiden on Twitter and Instagram; I for one look forward to seeing what they’re going to do next!