Monday, October 31, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: EVOLUTION REVOLUTION: Simple Machines by Charlotte Bennardo (review by Michael G-G)

EVOLUTION REVOLUTION: Simple Machines by Charlotte Bennardo, illustrations by Cathleen Daniels (2016)

I am delighted to have found a new author to support. Charlotte Bennardo seems to be the epitome of professionalism (I encourage you to read the post at her blog titled Ms. Book Manners Says.) Writing for publication is a profession, and Charlotte does a great job of explaining what the standards are and what constitutes good manners.

Ordinarily, I am not a huge fan of stories about animals (shameful confession: I have not yet read Watership Down) but I did enjoy Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of Nimh and now I can add EVOLUTION REVOLUTION to the list. Read on to learn why.

What It's About:
In a quiet wood, a common gray squirrel will start a war. First he learns words and how to use simple machines like the wheel. Named Jack by the boy who teaches him, Jack sees construction machines invade his wood and threaten his nest and tree. Sharing what he's learned with Sister, he calls a Gathering of the woodland animals to convince them to fight. Most of the animals, like Beaver, Bird and the Rabbits are afraid. Fox and Rat do not want to learn anything from a human, until Jack tells Fox his den will be the first destroyed by the machines. The animals unite: Beaver, Owl, Fox, Rat, and even Sister join the fight. They win one battle, but they may not win the war because the humans have become especially interested in them.

Why I liked it:

The character of Jack, the squirrel: Can you say spunky? Jack is intrepid and intelligent, and he is able to understand the young boy who befriends him. Despite Jack's fear of the machines, he also grows into a leader as he gathers his fellow woodland creatures to prevent a subdivision being built in his forest. Go Jack!

The easy-to-read style: As a writer, I like to study how other writers construct their stories. Evolution Revolution is written in close third person, mainly through Jack's point of view. I kept thinking, as I read, that it would be a good novel to read in an elementary classroom. The novel has some humor, and lots of heart, and it is just the right length for a read-aloud book. Plus, there's plenty of action: who doesn't like a story about underdogs (although dogs are looked down upon by the forest-dwelling animals) who are able to put a big crimp into the plans of man and their machines?

The illustrations are great. This novel was produced with a lot of care. The cover art is appealing and the inside illustrations in black-and-white are tremendous. (I love the drawing of Jack rolling a nut on page 18!)

(To learn more about the illustrator, check out Cathleen Daniels website HERE.)

About The Author (from Goodreads bio):

Until Hollywood calls, Charlotte Bennardo lives in NJ with her husband, three children, two needy cats and sometimes a deranged squirrel. Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines is her first solo novel. She is also the co-author of Blonde Ops (St. Martin’s/Dunne) and the Sirenz series (Sirenz, Sirenz Back In Fashion, Flux), and one of 13 authors in the anthology, Beware the Little White Rabbit (Leap). She’s written for magazines and newspapers, and has given presentations and workshops at NJ SCBWI conferences. Currently she’s working on sci fi, historical, fantasy, and time travel novels and loves to hear from fans. WEBSITE

Win a copy of EVOLUTION REVOLUTION on Goodreads!

Charlotte Bennardo's Goodreads author photo


  1. I'm not a fan of animal stories either. If you like this, it must be good.

  2. This book sounds super adorable! Thanks for sharing!

  3. You have me going nuts wanting to read this book. Thanks for sharing this intriguing new title.

  4. This book sounds spectacular. Thanks for sharing and I need to read Watership Down as well. Saw the movie version though.


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!