Grandmother Fish: a child’s first book of Evolution

Created by Grandmother Fish LLC

Grandmother Fish: a child’s first book of Evolution
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1,096 backers pledged $36,500.00 on Kickstarter

“Grandmother Fish” teaches preschoolers to love the idea that we are descended from animals. Can you wiggle like a fish?

Raised in Kickstarter
$36,500.00 / 1,096 backers
Raised in BackerKit
$14,524.40 / 1,423 backers
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Tip Karen and let her know how much you love her gorgeous art!

Learn About Our Project:

[If you wish to tune in to the final 30 minutes of the campaign streaming live, please click here!]

Grandmother Fish is the first book to teach evolution to preschoolers. While listening to the story, the child mimics the motions and sounds of our ancestors, such as wiggling like a fish or hooting like an ape. Like magic, evolution becomes fun, accessible, and personal. Grandmother Fish will be a full-size (10 x 8), full-color, 32-page, hardback book full of appealing animal illustrations, perfect for your bookshelf. US publishers consider evolution to be too “hot” a topic for children, but with help from people like you, we are making this book happen ourselves.

We are proud and amazed to have received endorsements from three leading thinkers in the field of evolution, all of them professors at prestigious institutions.

Steven Pinker is one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. He’s earned numerous prizes, seven honorary doctorates and recognition as a leading humanist and intellectual.

Daniel Dennett is world-renowned philosopher, cognitive scientist and author, with landmark books on consciousness and evolution. He studies neuroscience and artificial intelligence.

David Sloan Wilson is an evolutionary biologist and author. He founded the Evolutionary Studies program to unify diverse academic disciplines under the theory of evolution.

Also see what Daniel Loxton, PZ Myers, GeekMom and others are saying about Grandmother Fish on our page of reviews…

See for yourself by clicking the image and downloading a free copy of an early draft. Read it to preschoolers yourself and see how much they enjoy it.

In addition to the 21-page story, the book will include several pages of hard science. To get the science right, we’ve gotten detailed advice from Eric Meikle of the National Center for Science Education. The charming story of Grandmother Fish is just the beginning, and these back pages help you use the story as a launching off point to explain evolution to children.

Please click to download a preliminary draft PDF copy of the book (approx 4 MB)
Please click to download a preliminary draft PDF copy of the book (approx 4 MB)
Evolutionary family tree in progress. For a full-size look at the tree click the image above.
Evolutionary family tree in progress. For a full-size look at the tree click the image above.

Our first stretch goal added a two-page piece of art to the book, a full-color, kid-friendly evolutionary family tree. Karen has gotten far enough along that you can see where she’s headed. We’ve also decided to add an educational poster version of the tree as a Stretch Goal at $40,000! Read more about it here…

We have achieved two fantastic Stretch Goals! Thanks to our fans & supporters, we’ve reached the $25K & $30K goals and will be producing two add-ons for supporters to choose from if they are interested in adding them to their pledge total if you have pledged at the GRANDMOTHER FISH LEVEL and above.

Want a bookmark set and/or a sticker sheet? Simply edit your pledge amount *now* and add $6 or $12 (with no additional shipping cost). At the end of the campaign we will ask a set of Survey questions. We will confirm which add-ons you have selected to add to your pledge at that time and they will be shipped to you with your Grandmother Fish book.

NOTE: Sorry, we can’t offer the add-ons to the digital reward levels because the additional shipping & handling cost would be too high.

Last week we reached our $25,000 Stretch Goal. As a perfect companion to your book we will be creating a set of five bookmarks featuring the five grandmothers.

Thanks to everyone helping us reach $30,000 Stretch Goal we will also be adding something that every kid loves: sticker sheets!

You can see kids having Grandmother Fish read to them for the first time. Their reactions are priceless! In this 0:50 second video, see the little girl’s cute reaction to learning for the first time that we are descended from fish!

My family tree is full of teachers, including my father, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, my late wife, and her sister. I like teachers, and I consider myself lucky to have been surrounded by them my whole life. During the campaign we’ve heard some wonderful feedback from teachers as well. Read more about it here…

Jonathan Tweet, Author

Grandmother Fish was created by Jonathan Tweet, an award-winning game designer and lifelong fan of evolution. Over the last 25 years, has worked on major game brands, such as Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. For most of that time, he has also been working on the concept for Grandmother Fish. He started the project fifteen years ago when his daughter was little. Last year, he added the interactive motions and sounds, which make the book click with young children. Reactions to the book were so positive that he decided to raise funds for it here on Kickstarter. Is the world ready for an evolution book for preschoolers? Jonathan’s betting that it is.

Karen Lewis, Illustrations

Grandmother Fish will be fully illustrated in color by Karen Lewis, a professional children’s book and science illustrator. Her animal illustrations balance scientific accuracy with appealing personality. She is excited to work on a project with the audacious goal of presenting evolution to little children. Here are samples of Karen’s finished art from previous projects.

Examples of Karen Lewis’ scientific children’s book and interactive art
Examples of Karen Lewis’ scientific children’s book and interactive art

For more insight into Karen and her approach to the project, here’s another great video by Keith Hitchcock of Hocus Focus Media.

Here’s an animation of Karen’s illustration process. You will see that she starts with an early gestural sketch. Once the emotion and ‘feeling’ of the sketch seems right, Karen experiments with the tighter color elements that go into making a great illustration. Several layers of polish later, her final illustrations really pop off the page, filled with subtle details and emotion that really appeal to kids.

Progressive animation of Karen Lewis’ art process!
Progressive animation of Karen Lewis’ art process!

Pledge Rewards

If you back Grandmother Fish, you will get your own copy of the book with your name in it as one of the supporters who made the book possible. At higher levels of backing, your book is signed by the author (Jonathan Tweet) and illustrator (Karen Lewis). If you really want to be part of the project, you can even get your child (or any other vertebrate) illustrated into the final two-paged spread of the story!

At this level you will get all of our digital rewards, including: An exclusive eBook version of Grandmother Fish for download. This will be a high-quality, professionally-produced book which contains all of the finished artwork. The eBook will be designed for most eBook readers, including Kindle, Nook, iPad, and others. You will also get a set of wallpaper images from Karen's art for your computer. Plus, your name will be listed in the back matter of both the eBook and hard-cover editions! (Yes, you can substitute a child's name or someone else's name for your own.)

At this level you will get the hardcover edition of the book, plus all the earlier rewards — eBook, wallpapers, name in book.

Don't forget we have an “EARLY FISH” version of this reward with everything from the GRANDMOTHER FISH level at the reduced price of $20 for the first 200 supporters!

Here’s your chance to do some good for science education, because at this level we will match-donate a second copy of the book to a suitable education-oriented non-profit. We will be posting a Kickstarter update with the details of the non-profit once we know the quantities we will be donating, etc. In addition to the donated copy, you’ll get all the earlier rewards — your own hardcover edition, eBook, wallpapers, name in book.

Love Karen Lewis’ illustrations like we do? At this level we will be sending you a limited edition art print signed by Karen and printed on cotton rag paper with archival inks, suitable for framing. Your copy of the book will also be signed by the author (Jonathan) and illustrator (Karen). All the previous levels apply — hardcover edition, eBook, wallpapers, name in book.

Do you *hate* the idea that we're teaching little kids about Evolution? Want to burn the books in protest? At this special level you get ten copies of the book, plus a specially illustrated book of matches so you can light the pile of books on fire as soon as they arrive!

Immortalize your kid, yourself, or your favorite pet! At this level you can specify a child, parent, grandmother or any other vertebrate to be illustrated as part of the last spread of the story. You’ll get a signed hardcover edition, plus all the previous rewards — eBook, wallpapers, signed hardcover edition, name in book, limited edition art print.

The perfect pair: Pick two loved-ones you’d like to see illustrated together. At this level you can specify up to two children, parents, pets or other vertebrates to be illustrated as part of the last spread of the story. You’ll get a signed hardcover edition, and don’t forget all the great things that came before — eBook, wallpapers, signed hardcover edition, name in book, limited edition art print.

Do you want Karen to capture the likeness of your kids at this age in her illustration? or a small family grouping in the book? At this level you canspecify a group of up to three kids, parents, fun-loving aunts or other vertebrates to be drawn into the last spread of the story. You’ll get a signed hardcover edition, plus all the previous rewards — eBook, wallpapers, signed hardcover edition, name in book, limited edition art print.

You can help us spread the word about evolution to many kids: We will donate 100 copies of Grandmother Fish to one or more suitable education-oriented nonprofits (or a nonprofit of your choice). Plus, we will send you a hand-bound, one-of-a-kind edition of Grandmother Fish signed by Jonathan and Karen. She will also illustrate up to three children, parents or other future philanthropists of your choice into the last spread of the story. And you’ll get absolutely everything else — eBook, wallpapers, an extra, signed hardcover edition you can use as a gift, name in book, limited edition art print; plus of course we will ship anywhere in the world for free!

Grandmother Fish Add-Ons

Want to order more copies of Grandmother Fish for friends & family? No problem! Simply add $25 for each additional copy to whichever pledge level you support us at — up to nine additional copies max. In the final survey at the end of the Kickstarter Campaign, you will be asked how many extra copies you ordered. The additional shipping cost is FREE!!

For Parents and Kids

Parents have been reading the book to their children for months, and we’ve been using their comments to improve the wording, the text treatment, and the art. Parents tell us that the book leads to wonderful discussions about evolution, which is just what they want. You can download a copy of the early draft right now and read it to kids yourself. You’ll see how much they love wiggling, squeaking, and hooting like our ancestors did.

A young reader with an early draft
A young reader with an early draft
Learning fun words, like “grab”
Learning fun words, like “grab”

Future Products

If Grandmother Fish is successful, it could be the start of a line of books and games that introduce science concepts to children. We have already made valuable contacts in the science-education community that could help us succeed with future books, games, and apps. For now we are focused on one book, something straightforward to produce and distribute. Success with our first book will make more ambitious projects possible in the future.