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Friday, October 18, 2019

Moth: An Evolution Story. Written by Isabel Thomas and illustrated by Daniel Egneus. Bloomsbury, Raincoast. 2019. $24.99 ages 7 and up

"When the sun rose, the
peppered moths dozed on
lichen-covered branches.

Silent, still, they hid. 

Someone else was looking
for food.

Who was the best hidden?
Who would survive?"

'It starts with a little moth.' Indeed, it does.

Isabel Thomas uses the story of the peppered moth to help her explain evolution to our youngest readers. It is a story that has changed over time; in doing so, it explains why there is diversity in the species. One is pale in color with speckled wings. One is a peppered moth born with charcoal wings. Both are present in nature today. Why?

When trees were lightly colored, the speckled moths found safety in their camouflaging bark. The charcoal ones were more easily seen, and promptly devoured by their predators. Then, pollution began to darken the trees. The speckled moths were more easily seen, leaving the charcoal ones an opportunity to flourish and find protection from their enemies. Today, in light of the fact that coal is less used in many places, the air is cleaner and provides an opportunity for the return of the speckled moth population.

Both species are in evidence today, and their numbers are increasing. Adaptation and natural selection are quite miraculous theories, aren't they? The striking collage artwork provides a detailed and intriguing look at how things change in our world over time, dependent on conditions. The blend of well-chosen text and picture-perfect art makes this a fine nonfiction choice for young learners.

Back matter adds further useful information about the moths themselves, as well as how natural selection and adaptation work to change our world.

"This is a story of light and dark. Of change and adaptation, of survival and hope." A brilliant one, I would say.

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