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Science can be more fantastical than fiction! This children's book uses verse and illustration to tell amazing stories about evolution. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on March 14, 2014.

Science can be more fantastical than fiction! This children's book uses verse and illustration to tell amazing stories about evolution.

About this project

Imagine if Dr. Seuss met Mr. Darwin and wrote a book...

For centuries, children’s books like The Jungle Book and Aesop's Fables have delighted millions with mythical stories for why animals do what they do. These stories are imaginative, but there are facts about real animals and plants that are even more fantastical! That's why I’m working with renowned scientists and talented artists to create a book that will bring these true stories about the natural world to children of all ages--while also being wildly entertaining!

I'm Tiffany Taylor (hi!), and I'm the author. I have a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and work as a postdoctorate fellow at the University of Reading by day, but I also love writing children's books (see my last project, Little Changes). For Great Adaptations, I'm creating ten illustrated short stories in rhyme that explain the evolutionary advantages of some of the natural world's unusual traits in child-friendly terms. Each story is written in close collaboration with esteemed and up-and-coming scientists who have conducted extensive research on the topic at hand, and illustrated by an artist who shares an interest in the topic. For readers who want to learn more on the subject, the scientists are also providing a short commentary. We’re very proud that our team of scientists and science-enthusiasts is almost half women!

Illustration for "The Mystery of the Vanishing Killifish", by Zach Weinersmith
Illustration for "The Mystery of the Vanishing Killifish", by Zach Weinersmith


A Sampling of Stories:

How Does the Crow Know? - Scientist: Anne Clark / Artist: Yuko Ota - Crows are very successful in the urban jungle, in part because they are clever and inquisitive. They notice and remember everything so that they can be cautious to anything different in their environment.

Better Together - Scientist: Niels Dingemanse / Artist: James Munro - Like people, birds have very different personalities: some are shy, some are bold. When times are good, the bold birds snatch up the best nest sites and food resources. When times are hard, however, the shy birds work together to help raise chicks. It takes all kinds!

Turning Sunshine into Supper - Scientist: Angela Douglas / Artist: TBA! - This story explains how creatures big and small can work together for mutual benefit, focusing on the partnership between sea animals and the single-celled microbes that photosynthesize sunlight into sugars for them to eat. In return, the animal provides a safe place for the microbe to live.

Stories have the power to delight and to teach. We believe in Great Adaptations as an effective, and most importantly, fun way to get kids asking questions about the world they live in. This has been a labor of love, and now we need your help to finish Great Adaptations and get it to inquisitive young minds through bookstores, online and to a library near you.

An illustration for "Better Together", by James Munro
An illustration for "Better Together", by James Munro

Who We Are:

Tiffany Taylor is an evolutionary biologist and children’s author, dedicated to getting young minds asking questions about the world they live in.

Robert Kadar is the guy who came up with the idea of Great Adaptations. He's also the founder of the online science and evolution magazine This View of Life.

David S. Wilson is an evolutionary biologist, and serves as the science advisor and recruiter for Great Adaptations.

Confirmed scientists:

  • Anne Clark, Binghamton University - Crow Intelligence
  • Niels Dingemanse, Max Planck Institute - Bird Personalities
  • Angela Douglas, Cornell University - Mutualism and Photosynthesis
  • Ben Eisenkop, Binghamton University - Biochemical Cycling
  • Brian Hare, Duke University - Human and Canine Co-Evolution
  • Sarah Hrdy, University of California, Davis - Human Cooperative Breeding
  • Mark Moffett (“Dr. Bugs”), Smithsonian Institute - Eusociality in Ants
  • Mark Pagel, University of Reading - Evolution of Language
  • Kelly Weinersmith, University of California Davis - Host-Parasite Relationships
  • David Sloan Wilson, Binghamton University - Evolution of Altruism

Confirmed artists:

An illustration for "All In" by Lore Ruttan
An illustration for "All In" by Lore Ruttan

Rewards

The Book:
We're offering 3 versions of Great Adaptations through this Kickstarter campaign: a digital version, a standard version, and a premium version.

The digital version is DRM-free and will initially be offered as a full-color PDF only. We may offer it as a .mobi and .epub as well if we raise enough money to do the conversions!

The standard version of the book is the one that will be available for sale after the campaign. It'll be hardcover, printed in full-color, and is 7"x7". The premium version of the book will only be available through the Kickstarter campaign and features a foil-stamped cover and special end-sheets. Every tier offering the premium version also gets you a standard version, so you can have one to love to pieces, and one to cherish.

Become a Scientist:
Pledge $1831 or $1836 and send us a headshot, and we'll immortalize you as one of the curious scientists getting into trouble on the cover of Great Adaptations! There are only two spots available.

Risks and challenges

Late into the night while doing research for the book, one of our scientists might uncover a small piece of amber with a mosquito in it previously ignored by her lab. Desperate to procrastinate on writing the commentary for the book, she starts playing around with it and discovers that the mosquito's last meal was one of dinosaur blood.

A few months and a LOT of NSF funding later, she's successfully cloned a dinosaur. This sets the wheels turning for a research facility to house cloned dinosaurs. The Great Adaptations team is completely thrilled for her, but we are also a bit vexed about how late that chapter is. I mean, we're sure the park is going to run without a hitch, but we're also positive that she'll have no time to help us finish the chapter. In the end, we're forced to turn to one of her colleagues to fill in the gaps on her research and the book is a few months late.

But hey, at least there's a park full of cloned dinosaurs! And maybe we could arrange for the highest backers to go on a little field trip, eh??

(Seriously, though: six of the stories are already written, and the rest are underway. We've got illustrators lined up and excited to work as soon as we know we can pay them! We are working with Breadpig, a veteran of publishing Kickstarter projects, to handle our printing and fulfillment. The worst that we expect is a few delays due to coordinating a large team of contributors.)

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    253 backers

    A DRM-free digital version of Great Adaptations!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $15 or more

    852 backers

    A physical copy of Great Adaptations (+ a digital copy)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    250 backers

    A set of Great Adaptations trivia cards (+ the physical and digital copies of Great Adaptations)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    73 backers Limited (2 left of 75)

    The Early Bird Fan Pack: a sticker sheet and poster featuring the critters of Great Adaptations. We'll also thank you by name in the back of the book! (+ the physical and digital copies of Great Adaptations, and one set of trivia cards)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    93 backers Limited (7 left of 100)

    The limited edition version of Great Adaptations (+ the standard edition, digital copy, trivia cards, and thank you in the back of the book)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    39 backers Limited (61 left of 100)

    Limited Fan Pack:
    The limited edition version of Great Adaptations (+ everything in the Fan Pack level)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $125 or more

    24 backers

    Family Pack:
    5 Fan Packs (so that's 5 books, 5 sticker sheets, etc.), plus one joint Thank You in the back of the book.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $200 or more

    4 backers Limited (1 left of 5)

    [Early Bird] The Curiosity Package:
    Ask the scientists who worked on the book up to 10 questions about their work. Subject to screening for appropriateness!

    (+ a Limited Fan Pack)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    The Curiosity Package:
    Ask the scientists who worked on the book up to 10 questions about their work. Subject to screening for appropriateness!

    (+ a Limited Fan Pack)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    3 backers Limited (2 left of 5)

    Tiffany will write you a poem about your favorite animal!

    (+ The Curiosity Package)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $750 or more

    2 backers Limited (3 left of 5)

    One of our scientists will deliver a 30 minute lecture via Skype/Google Hangout.

    (+ The Curiosity Package)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,831 or more

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Become a Scientist:
    You'll be immortalized as one of the scientists on the front cover of the book!

    (+ The Curiosity Package, and a very special thank you at the end of the book.)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,836 or more

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Become a Scientist:
    You'll be immortalized as the other scientist on the front cover of the book!

    (+ The Curiosity Package, and a very special thank you at the end of the book.)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $2,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    Book Sponsor: You or your organization will be listed in the front of the book as a sponsor of the project. We will also send you 5 Copies of the Limited Edition, 5 Copies of the Regular Edition, 5 sets of Trivia Cards, and 5 Sticker Sheets!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $5,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    All of the artists who contribute work to Great Adaptations will draw your favorite animal for you. You'll get either the original drawings or high-quality digital prints (for the artists who don't work in physical media) for each.

    (+ The Curiosity Package, and a very special thank you at the end of the book.)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)