When I posted my piece on Teaching Preschoolers about Archaeology, Bioanthropology, and the Classics over on G+, Bria Dunham suggested a book I'd never heard of: Gakky Two-Feet, written by none other than Micky Dolenz of the The Monkees fame in 2006.
Now, I grew up listening to every song The Monkees ever recorded, since my mom was a huge fan of Peter Tork, and Nickelodeon broadcast all the old episodes of the TV show, which my brother and I watched religiously. So when Peter came through Charlottesville and played folk music at a small coffeeshop some time in the early 90s, my mom and I went (and I was way too shy to say hi after the set). And when The Monkees reunion tour was announced this year, I was disappointed to find out that they were coming to Durham just a couple weeks after I'll be moving to Nashville.
Somehow, Dolenz has managed to pack a few different theories on the origin of bipedalism into a short kids' book. He even touches on the ideas of altruism and sexual selection. In a way, it reminds me of Roy Lewis' The Evolution Man (a fast read for adults and probably appropriate for older kids too) - a kind of a "what if" book depicting the origins of humankind. The illustrations, by David Clark, are also quite darling (although Gak inexplicably reminds me of a young-and-hammy Hugh Laurie).
The one thing that struck me as odd is the preface by Dolenz, in which he says that "Current paleoanthropological theory holds that our ancestors adapted to upright walking about 4 million years ago (around the time of Australopithecus afarensis - the infamous "Lucy")." Lucy and her kind weren't the first to walk bipedally, but A. afarensis is the first to show hallmarks of a modern ability to walk (and lessened adaptations to life in the trees). A minor quibble.
Gakky Two-Feet has now been toddler-tested. My daughter hasn't memorized it yet, but she requested "Read Gakky Two-Feet!" several times yesterday. I'd definitely recommend it for ages 2 and up.