Grandmother Fish now on Amazon!


Amazon has over 100 copies, but as of Oct 30 they’re in transit between fulfillment centers. I’m am shipping them the last of the first edition, except for some cases held back for special purposes. I’m also looking for brick-and-mortar stores that would each like to order a case. If you know a great store that would like to carry the book, have them contact me: jonathan (at) grandmother fish (dot) com.

Grandmother Fish is the first book to teach evolution to preschoolers, and you can order it now.

Grandmother Fish is a full-color, 32-page, hardcover book, written by game designer Jonathan Tweet and illustrated by Karen Lewis, a children’s science illustrator.


You can see little children reacting to having the book read to them for the first time. Take a look at this video of three parents reading an early draft of the book to their children.


Please keep in touch with us by Liking our page on Facebook. Our page includes lots of behind-the-scenes posts about evolution and the process of creating Grandmother Fish.


You can download the free PDF edition of the book here. [PDF no longer available]


For more information about Grandmother Fish, see our About page. To see what others are saying, see our Reviews page.

Thanks for your interest in Grandmother Fish!


FUNDED! Thank you.

Please check out our successful Kickstarter campaign!

Our Kickstarter campaign started June 23rd and we funded on the 25th. Daniel Dennett, David Sloan Wilson, Daniel Loxton, Tiffany Taylor, Monte Cook, and others got behind the campaign, and we hit the top of Kickstarter’s popularity list for publishing. As the campaign continues, we’ll gather the resources to do a better book. Our first stretch goal is to add a full-color, two-page spread that shows our evolutionary family trees with all five grandmothers and all the cousins, too. That will be our stretch goal for $20,000.

Thank you!


Sneak peek at video

The video for Kickstarter is almost done. Keith Hitchcock of Hocus Focus Media made us look really good. Everything came together, and we ended up with the cutest video ever for a children’s book of evolution. Click the image to see for yourself. It’s not final, but really close. The Kickstarter campaign starts June 23rd, and this video has me feeling really good about it.



Ape feet and people feet

The story of Grandmother Fish is simplified for preschoolers, so the science notes for parents in the back have to be rigorous. Fortunately, I’m getting help from the National Center for Science Education. These people are serious about teaching evolution and climate change. Eric Meikle is helping me personally, and he recently gave me a welcome point-by-point critique of my endnotes. The next version of the draft will include updated information thanks to him. He and I spent extra time trying to get the paragraph below just right. This is the paragraph in the back that helps parents talk to their children about the “grab” motion that Grandmother Ape was good at. Talking about “feet” and “hands” gets tricky when you’re talking about primates, humans in particular. Our ancestors’ limbs have been specialized first for swimming, then crawling, and then climbing. Now our hind limbs are specialized for walking while our forelimbs are specialized for grabbing. It might sound minor, but I want to help children understand how special human feet are. Here’s the paragraph that Eric and I worked out.

Our early primate ancestors’ paws evolved into four “hands” that helped them climb and live in trees. In humans, our rear “hands” have evolved into stable feet specialized for walking and running on the ground. They are a new kind of foot, unlike the feet of any other animal.

Lamarck is famous for being wrong about how evolution worked, but he was right about one thing: humans evolved from “four-handed” animals. Two hundred years ago, his contemporaries jeered at him for his bold claim, but today it’s time for preschoolers to learn that he was right all along.


Hind feet of various primates.

KS campaign starts June 23rd

I’m happy to announce that we’re moving the start of the Kickstarter campaign back one week to Monday, June 23rd. Why am I “happy” about that? First of all, we’re changing the schedule so that we will have more of Karen’s art to show when we start. As proud as I am of the text in the book, people are going to judge the book by the art, and we want to get that right. Having more art to show makes me happy. Second, when I originally set the schedule, I tried for a June 1st launch, but I knew that July 1st would be more realistic. I’ve done enough creative projects over the years to know that schedules are likely to slip. For me, June 23rd is still “ahead of schedule” by a week.

Here’s a new piece by Karen. It’s still rough, but you can see the life that she’s bringing to her subject matter.

Karen's rough color draft
Karen’s rough color draft

Video Really Sings

Our videographer, Keith Hitchcock of Hocus Focus Media, has delivered the first cut of the Kickstarter video, and it looks amazing. Our contact at Kickstarter liked it, and I’ve gotten a lot of compliments from my professional friends. The Kickstarter goes live a week from Monday, and the video is going to be a real hit. If this video is not the most heart-warming one for an evolution book ever, I’ll eat my hat. There’s even plenty of footage for two more videos: a complete read-through with children hearing the book for the first time, and a look at Karen’s art and her perspective on the project.

Keith built the schedule with flex time, so we were able to get some great scenes that we would never have planned out ahead of time. Here’s a screen grab of one such scene.

My daughter did a great job. Fifteen years ago, she was the original inspiration for Grandmother Fish.

My daughter, me, our two poodles, Karen, and her son in an unplanned scene that turned out great.
My daughter is a real star of the video.
My daughter is a real star of the video.


Karen’s sketches in the draft

Karen’s sketches are wonderful.

Grandmother Fish has taken a big step forward with the addition of Karen’s sketches to the prototype. The sketches are rough, but even in rough form they bring a lot more sweetness to the book. She’s also formatted the PDF so that you see both the left and right pages in each spread, which is what it will look like when you open the finished book.

Please download the latest prototype of Grandmother Fish at the usual URL, here:

With the addition of Karen’s sketches to the book, it’s better than ever to share with friends. and we’d love to get some fresh eyes on it. Please share this post with friends, and thanks for your help.

Video shoot went great!

We shot the video for the Kickstarter last Saturday, and it was amazing. The shoot brought all the team members together for the first time: Karen, the artist; my business consultant; the videographer; and me. It was a joy to see us all working together and getting such good results. In her interview, Karen really showed her genuine excitement for the project, and my daughter did a great job talking about what it was like to learn about evolution from me as a child. We also taped three parents reading Grandmother Fish to their young children and got plenty of good footage.

For 20 years, I’ve been a professional game designer in Seattle, so I have a lot of friends who can help me bring Grandmother Fish to life. One friend pointed me to Keith Hitchcock and his Hocus Focus video company. Keith did an amazing job on a tight budget and with amateur talent. I can’t wait to see the final video.

Karen brought her husband and their 6-year-old son, my gaming buddy was there with his wife and two daughters, and my daughter is back from college, so the day was also something of a family gathering. The kids and my dogs had fun romping in our big yard.

While taping one mother-daughter pair, we caught the daughter asking her mom, “So, we’re related to fish?” It was golden.

My daughter, me, Karen, and her son at the video shoot.

Evolution game on Kickstarter

Evolutionary tree
Evolutionary tree in Go Extinct!

Go Extinct! is a card game that teaches children and adults the basics of our evolutionary tree. It’s like Go Fish, except that the cards represent various tetrapod species, and the “suits” are the various clades, or evolutionary groups, that each species falls into. Ariel Marcy, the creator, has done a good job with the evolutionary tree. The full evolutionary, or phylogenetic, tree is dauntingly complex. Marcy boils it down to a manageable number of groups, and she does a good job of choosing animals to represent major groups, from the mundane (such as chicken) to the obscure (such as the snakelike, amphibian caecilians). Players can see for themselves that looks can be deceiving, and two animals might look different but be closely related, or look similar but have only a distant connection.

The evolutionary tree is central to a modern understanding of animal taxonomy. Hundreds of years ago, animals were grouped together according to their characteristics, putting birds, for example, is a category separate from reptiles. Today, however, we group animals according to common descent. Birds and mammals are grouped together with reptiles in the “amniote” clade. Marcy calls this large clade the “shell shockers” because we’re the tetrapods that evolved eggs that could survive on land. While many of these clades have intimidating scientific names, such as “Laurasiatherian,” Marcy has given them all kid-friendly names that point to the animals’ evolution. She uses the term “North Siders” for Laurasiatherians, such as lions and whales, because they evolved in the northern continent of Laurasia.

The phylogenetic tree expresses the modern way of understanding relationships among organisms, living and extinct. Go Extinct! is a fun way for people to interact with the tree and get comfortable with it. Please consider backing Marcy’s Kickstarter campaign, which you can find right here. Her Kickstarter ends on May 31st, so don’t delay.


Welcome to Grandmother Fish

Welcome to Grandmother Fish, the book that teaches evolution to preschoolers.

Grandmother Fish is a child’s first book of evolution. The book engages a young child’s imagination with sounds and motions that imitate animals, especially our direct ancestors. See for yourself by viewing or downloading an early draft at the sign-up form to the right.  >>>

Also, here’s a sneak-peek at our Grandmother Fish Kickstarter video! After you sign up, we will be able to send you updates for when our Kickstarter campaign will launch.

— Jonathan Tweet


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of Grandmother Fish & Clades