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Darwin Hardcover – April 6, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 1060L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1st hardcover edition edition (April 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618995315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618995318
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 7.7 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #808,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3–5—This picture-book biography emphasizes the scientist's curiosity and determination to learn the truth about nature. Most spreads contain two or three paragraphs of clear expository text in a comfortably large font, a handwritten quotation from a primary source, and a lovely watercolor-tinted woodcut. The text begins with Darwin's childhood interest in collecting specimens and experimenting with chemistry and moves through his education, his experiences on the Beagle, and the development of the theory of evolution. Although the topic does not dominate the book, McGinty takes on the issue of religion. She says, "Charles himself finally came to believe that there were no answers to his questions about God. He saw the universe as too amazing not to have been created by a God." The endnotes and source list are comprehensive but, appropriately, do not intrude on the easy-to-read text. Azarian's woodcuts are filled with cheerful color and capture the moments in Darwin's life that will most intrigue children. With its cover made to look like one of his own battered brown leather notebooks, showing the naturalist surrounded by his beloved specimens, this is a pleasing package for children just learning about the man and his work.—Ellen Heath, Easton Area Public Library, Easton, PA
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* After tracing Charles Darwin’s youth and education, this fully illustrated biography focuses on his five-year voyage aboard the HMS Beagle, when he observed geology, animals, and plants; collected specimens; and took extensive notes. He returned to England and spent his life researching, reflecting, and writing about his discoveries. Azarian, whose Snowflake Bentley (1998) won the Caldecott Medal, illustrates the book using handsome woodcut prints painted with watercolors. Quotes from Darwin’s journals and letters appear as pictures of cursive lines on parchment-colored sheets, setting them apart from the narrative text as well as the illustrations. Source notes for quotes are appended. McGinty does a fine job of communicating Darwin’s personal humility as well as his passion for exploring the natural world, his tireless work to understand it better, and his reluctance to publish a theory that seemed to contradict religious teaching. The interplay of the clearly written third-person text with Darwin’s own words and occasional quotes from his contemporaries creates a multifaceted view that leads to a broader understanding. Biographies of scientists can be challenging to write for an audience unfamiliar with their research, but this one succeeds in introducing Darwin and his work to a surprisingly young group. Grades 1-4. --Carolyn Phelan

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Charles Darwin was a collector. He didn't have a collection of things you might put on a shelf, but rather would collect dead bugs, rocks and other interesting natural specimens. When he was eight-years-old, after his mother died, he was sent to a nearby school named Shrewsbury. He wasn't interested in anything "Latin or Greek" and would rather run home and work on experiments with his brother Erasmus . . . smelly gaseous ones that earned him the nickname, "Gas."

Things didn't get any better in the school department. His father wanted him to be a doctor, but he was more interested in experiments. Finally, probably in exasperation, his father sent him off to Cambridge to become a cleric. In his own writing Charles said on this topic, "To my deep mortification my father once said to me. `You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.'" Later a special letter came from Professor Henslow asking if Charles might be interested in joining an expedition to study the plants and animals along the South American coastline. In spite of the objections his father made, in 1831 Charles Darwin set sail with the HMS Beagle. This fortuitous voyage would reshape world thinking.

This is a very well done book on Darwin, a seemingly resurgent topic in children's literature. The art work is vivid and includes drawings of penned letters that Charles wrote during his lifetime. The flow of the writing makes this book fun and would interest even the most reluctant of readers. "His life's work had shown that all living things, including people, are part of a natural changing world." This one just might interest your dead bug collector!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P. Gardner on July 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
From the first intriguing sentence (From the time he was young until long after his beard grew white, Charles Darwin loved to collect things.) to the perfectly-chosen ending quote (I have worked as hard and as well as I could, and no man can do more than this.), this book is a model of what nonfiction writing should be. It is engaging, informative, and humorous. (See Darwin's letter about the captain: "But I think he was afterwards well satisfied that my nose had spoken falsely.") I wish the illustrator had included some maps--especially to show where the Galapagos Islands sit. It is a nice touch that excerpts from Darwin's letters and journals are set apart in legible cursive with a parchment background. Accessible and very satisfying.
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More About the Author

Alice B. McGinty is the award-winning author of over 40 books for children.
Her most recent picture book biography, Darwin (2009, Houghton Mifflin, illustrated by Mary Azarian) was named a 2010 Orbis Pictus Honor Book and was on Booklist's 2009 Top Ten Biographies for Youth. Her other publications include, Eliza's Kindergarten Pet (2010, Marshall Cavendish, illustrated by Nancy Speir), Eliza's Kindergarten Surprise (2007, Marshall Cavendish), Thank You, World (2007, Dial Books, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin), Ten Little Lambs (2002, Dial Books, illustrated by Melissa Sweet), and nonfiction books on subjects ranging from nutrition to tarantulas.

Alice was born in Minneapolis Minnesota and has lived in New York, New Jersey, Kentucky, Maryland, Georgia, Indiana, and Illinois. She's been in Illinois for 20 years now. Maybe it's time to move again!

Alice loves to hike, play the guitar, dance, and read. She's also a writing teacher and coach, runs a writing camp for girls in grades 6-9, is a children's book reviewer for the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette, and the Co-Regional Advisor for the Illinois Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She looks forward to the 2013 release of two picture books, Gandhi: A March To the Sea (Amazon Children's Publishing, illustrated by Thomas Gonzales) and Rabbi Benjamin's Buttons (Charlesbridge).

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