Charles Darwin and the Theory of Natural Selection

an educational graphic novel for kids ages 9+

Children - Educational
24 Pages
Reviewed on 12/22/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Based in biodiversity-rich Ecuador, Alan wears several hats: he is an author-illustrator, an educator and a conservation biologist. Alan’s work is inspired by the majesty and fragility of nature and the need to do everything we can to protect it.
Alan combines his artistic creativity with his technical experience and knowledge to create scientifically accurate, educational graphic novels full of quirky, comic humour and fun action that also bear a message about how everyone can help preserve Nature.
He is the author and illustrator of five non-fiction graphic novels for middle grade children, among which his main ongoing focus is the Captain Polo series about climate change. Alan is also the author of 3 climate change-themed picture books for children within the 6-8 age range.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lois J Wickstrom for Readers' Favorite

Charles Darwin and the Theory of Natural Selection by Alan J. Hesse is a graphic history or comic book version of how and why Charles Darwin, a devoutly religious man, came up with his theory of how physical and behavioral traits change over time and are affected by the environment. Hesse has chosen to show some of Charles Darwin’s experiments, like turning tortoises over and seeing if they can turn themselves right side up. Some can and some can’t. He also drew a picture of Charles Darwin trying to ride on the back of a 200lb tortoise that threw him off like a bucking bronco. Alan J. Hesse not only wrote this informative book, but he also drew the artwork.

Usually, Charles Darwin is pictured as a serious old man. I enjoyed seeing these pictures of him as a playful young man. He tossed lizards he found on the shore into the ocean to see what they’d do. Spoiler alert: they came back up on land. He played with tortoises. He measured rocks. He forgot to write down the locations of all of his experiments but, fortunately, his cabin boy did. Hesse has made excellent use of his informal style to explain Darwin’s controversial theory to young readers. Darwin believed that part of the perfection of God’s creation is the ability of creatures to change in order to survive. Yes, Darwin believed in God and supported the church. I think Charles Darwin and the Theory of Natural Selection will help increase young readers' understanding of what evolution and survival of the fittest truly means.


This has been my go to gift for young biologists and curious kids- a huge hit. Beautiful illustrations allow for kids of different ages to read with their parents, but the content and story allows for older ones to engage in and learn about this incredible journey. A must have for any family that wants to inspire and support their children's passion for ecology, wildlife, and the history of science!

Sheila F.

Beautifully illustrated, terrific storytelling, lots to make you smile as you read this. Very engaging book for kids and adults alike.

Ernest Craige Jr.

If you want an accurate and uplifting examination of Darwin's famous voyage to the Galapagos, read Alan Hesse's illustrated story. Hesse is an astute scientist-artist (with a hilarious sense of humor), and he uses his gifts to animate Darwin's life and theory. Whether you are 15 or 75 or somewhere in between, read this book to grasp how perceptions of the human condition were forever altered due to young Darwin's observations. Hesse's book should be in every library and science department.

Giles Duffield

Fantastic piece of work, wonderfully written. Artist's details are superb. Story line is highly accurate. Excellent teaching aid for my student classes and for the kids at home alike. Clearly, Hesse is well versed in the area of this subject matter. Fun to read and to share. Would be great to see this work as part of a series of historical versions of important biological discoveries and personalities in this comic format. Any chance of this happening, Mr. Hesse?

Julie McCord

This is such a clever, creative and beautiful way to tell one of science's greatest stories. This would make the greatest gift for anyone interested in evolution, comics, the Galapagos or just great storytelling. This might be the best gift idea for 2015!

Rachel Atkinson

This is brilliant. A beautifully crafted masterpiece for any age. Great for schools and general interest.


My 12 year old daughter really enjoyed reading this book. She already knew something about Charles Darwin from a Horrible Histories song about him on TV so was very interested to find out about him. This book really helped her to understand who Darwin was, his historical context and why his discoveries were so important. She found the story entertaining and easy to follow and she really liked the illustrations which are lighthearted and lively. As an adult I also found the book very engaging and educational and I found the final section on Darwin's legacy and the very clear explanation of his theories about natural selection genuinely enlightening.

Karen Hammond

The theory of natural selection has always fascinated me and at last it is explained in a visually stimulating and clear way. As a head teacher, I recommend this book. I am sure school pupils as well as older students will enjoy the marvellous cartoon narrative and concise text.

Alexandra D. Owens

Have you been searching for a fun and understandable way to introduce natural selection and evolution in your classroom? Look no further! Charles Darwin and the Theory of Natural Selection tells the story of Darwin’s voyage to the Galapagos Islands and his theory that followed in a comic book format that is fun for all ages.

'The book’s historically accurate story line and illustrations give readers a glimpse into Darwin’s legendary journey. The author provides descriptions of characters that are crucial to the story, a map of the Beagle’s route, as well as an epilogue describing the principles of natural selection through examples drawn from the story. Keeping true to comic book fashion, humorous graphics and dialogue add to the scientific facts. This book could be used in the classroom in a variety of ways. It could be read aloud as a means of introducing the topic of natural selection, or students could read it in smaller pieces for class discussion. However this is used, it will provide a personal experience for an otherwise difficult to teach topic. This will make a great addition to any classroom science library. The format is fun, and the story line is appealing to students of any age. Make natural selection come to life with this book!'

Galapagos Conservation Trust

This fantastically illustrated comic focuses on the five weeks that Darwin spent in Galapagos and the subsequent development of the theory of evolution which finally resulted in Darwin’s seminal publication 'On the Origin of Species'. Taking such a story and turning it into a comic that is both enjoyable and accessible to a wide range of ages is no mean feat, but Alan Hesse has done a brilliant job. Now available for the first time in English, this historically and scientifically accurate book makes for a great educational resource.