Review of Moth: An Evolution Story

Moth: An Evolution Story
by Isabel Thomas; illus. by Daniel Egnéus
Primary    Bloomsbury    48 pp.    g
6/19    978-1-5476-0020-5    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5476-0024-3    $13.29

“This is a story of light and dark. Of change and adaptation, of survival and hope.” In a shadowy (pre-industrial) wood, a peppered moth — its “speckled, freckled” wing patterns wonderfully detailed in Egnéus’s gorgeous mixed-media illustrations — emerges from its cocoon and joins other members of its species as they attempt to survive the bats and birds trying to eat them. Every once in a while, an all-black moth emerges. Prominently visible against pale tree branches, it stands out among the speckled and freckled moths and is quickly eaten. But then things change: during nineteenth-century industrialization, soot fills the air — and now it’s the black moths that are hidden, and the lighter-color ones that are easily targeted. Thomas deftly builds an easily understandable explanation of natural selection into the well-paced narrative, as the moths’ survival due to their color under different environmental conditions determines whether or not these colors are “passed on to their offspring…and their offspring’s offspring.” Back matter shows both variations of the peppered moth; detailed notes explain more of the science to show that the moths are always evolving and include a message of hope that the human population will also be able to adapt.

From the May/June 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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