Laurence Pringle

Children's Books and School Author Visits

Click on a title below, and read the story behind the book!

"Beginning on a snowy afternoon in February and ending in early autumn, this book centers on a fox named Vixen as she explores her habitat, hunts, runs from danger, and starts a family. This intimate and personal view into Vixen's life is chronicled through a beautifully cohesive relationship between text and illustration...A rich reading experience awaits those who pick up this title..."--School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW
"This book--true to its sweeping subject matter--is swift, exacting, and sure to hook any reader."--Booklist "A great purchase for report writers, budding ornithologists, and generally curious readers."--SLJ
"Another winner in a long series of engaging, informative invitations to explore the natural world." --Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
A "picture-book equivalent of watching a nature documentary."--School Library Journal
"Budding arachnologists will find this an enlightening introduction."--Kirkus
"A coolly fascinating, nostalgic glimpse into life as it was over a century ago." --Kirkus Reviews
"A must-have addition to science collections." --Booklist
"intelligent..eye-catching..readable lodestone for researchers." Starred review, School Library Journal
Paperback--the most unusual dinosaur book ever published!
The most comprehensive children's book about these amazing insects! "Smoothly written, beautifully illustrated"--School Library Journal
"An amazing nonfiction children's book"--Midwest Book Review
"A especial treat for young dragon lovers." --Midwest Book Review
"Words and stirring pictures focus on the role of the powerful black man on the thrilling journey...he is hailed as a national hero." -- Booklist
"Pringle's succinct text provides an engaging overview of penguin life...even penguin fans will find something new." -- Booklist
"Even readers fearful of snakes may find the subject a little less strange, a little more wonderful." -- Booklist
"Presented with respect for the subject and for the audience, this is one of the best of the many bat books, especially for a somewhat younger audience." --Booklist
"The lucid text and elegant illustrations march in perfect step, creating an attractive fusing of art and information." --School Library Journal
"An exemplary nature-study book--accurate, explicit, and satisfyingly complete." School Library Journal
"Full of adventure and excitement, this book contains a wonderful mix of intriguing stories and historical facts."
--Childhood Education
"A poetic text...A wonderful choice to share with children before a summer vacation or to use as an introduction to an ecology unit." --School Library Journal
"A superb, well-researched book that finds extraordinary science in the everyday life of a butterfly."
--Kirkus Reviews
Picture Book Fiction
"A likable book that's sure to start kids romping, and maybe their parents, too."--Kirkus

Billions of Years, Amazing Changes: The Story of Evolution


The Story Behind the Book

My understanding of evolution began in high school biology (thank you, Mr. Jenkins!), and grew in college and for decades afterwards. Reading the journal Science and many other sources, I was amazed at the continuing flow of new discoveries about evolution.

For this book I set out to explain evolution as clearly and simply as possible. As usual, I learned a lot while researching the book. As usual, I sought the help of an expert to check all of my writing. As usual, the expert helped correct some mistakes. In this case, Dr. Jerry Coyne brought an extraordinary depth of knowledge to the job, and I made quite a few changes, especially about genetics. He liked the results, and wrote in the book's foreword, "In your hands is the book I wish I had read when I was your age."

On page 42 I paid special attention to one word: theory. I wonder: is there any other English word that has such a huge difference in meaning, between everyday use and use by experts? Most people think of a theory as an idea, a hunch, a rough guess. To scientists a theory is a well-understood set of ideas, supported by huge amounts of evidence. That's true of the germ theory, theory of gravity, theory of evolution, and others. People who understand science never say that evolution is "just" a theory because a scientific theory is always backed by so much trustworthy evidence.

Billions of Years, Amazing Changes gave me a rare opportunity--a chance to use some of my own photographs as illustrations. (I used to be a very active nature photographer. Some of my books, back in the 1980s and 1990s, were mostly illustrated with my photos.) My fourteen photos in this book range from nearby (a katydid in the vegetable garden) to very faraway (gannets in New Zealand). They include fossils photographed in museums, and subjects (cactus, volcanic rocks, Grand Canyon) taken on vacations. One image is remarkable: it shows my daughter Heidi, as a young girl, kneeling by some fossil dinosaur tracks. Another view of Heidi, taken on the same day in the 1960s, appeared in my very first book, Dinosaurs and Their World (1968). Old photos can come in handy!