Almost a year ago I was sitting on the train home, on my daily commute from Reading to Ash Vale. I’d had a long day in the lab, and I was flicking through my note book trying to make sense of some data I had collected earlier. Frustrated and confused by my bizarre results I began doodling some pictures, and by the time I arrived at Ash Vale I had a little story board sketched. This story told the tale of a group of animals with funny tails, that became split between two habitats. These habitats presented different challenges, and in order to survive the creatures had to adapt. In the end, little changes added up to make big differences.
I’d been thinking about writing a book about evolution for children for a while. Evolution is a dynamic process, ever changing, and only those which can keep up with the pace will survive. This is one of reasons I became so interested in evolution, it was the realisation that survival is a constant struggle. We are here because a long unbroken line of ancestors has managed not only to survive, but to reproduce for the last 4 billion years. When you work out the maths, the probability of you even being alive is incredibly small (in fact, if you want the rough numbers you can find them here). I felt the excitement and wonder of evolution was lost in current teaching methods, and so I wrote this book in order to introduce the concepts of evolution, without the jargon, in a fun and comprehensible way, with the hope of encouraging questions about the world we live in, and getting kids wondering why things are the way they are.
I am a singer/ songwriter, and so writing in a lyrical format came naturally to me. I’ve always found the poetic style much easier to get away with clichés and create imaginative images. Once written I had to decide what to do with it! I wrote to a few agents and thought about finding a publisher – but the truth is it’s very time consuming, and with a full time job I was feeling the strain. So I decided on a different plan of action, and applied for a grant from the ESEB outreach fund (if anyone is keen on getting involved in an evolutionary based outreach project I urge you to apply).
They kindly gave me the money to make my book into an educational resource for schools. A huge step forward for the project was the addition of the incredibly talented illustrator James Munro to the team. James took the words I had written and brought them to life. To literally watch the rinkidinks evolve on the page was hugely exciting.
In early 2013 I’m hoping to introduce the book to local schools and get some feedback on how the students respond and whether they learn anything new.
And so now, I am so excited to introduce you to the rinkidinks. You can read the book at here.
Read, enjoy, and please share if you like it.