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One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin Hardcover – January 13, 2009


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Hardcover, January 13, 2009
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 1050L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1st ed edition (January 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076361436X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763614362
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 9.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,226,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3–6—Large and humorous mixed-media illustrations will draw children to this large-format biography. Using watercolor, graphite pencil, gouache, acrylic ink, colored pencil, and collage, Trueman captures Darwin's world and adventures. Cartoonlike people have prominent noses, expressive faces, and enormous hands. Throughout, the naturalist appears to be both curious and hapless, a description he might have given himself in his own modest journals. Lasky's text balances the exuberant artwork with well-organized information, gracefully sprinkling in quotes from Darwin's own writing. Touching briefly on his childhood, the text devotes most of the space to Darwin's years on the Beagle, explaining how his discoveries in geology, paleontology, and animal anatomy on that trip led to his theory about evolution. Lasky uses Darwin's own words to show that he questioned the literal nature of the Bible and the divinity of Jesus, but that he wrote several times praising God as the Creator. Although the text is brief, it creates a clear view of a man who was troubled by the implications of his observations and who, at the end of his life, was more interested in experimenting with earthworms and carnivorous plants than in promoting his theory.—Ellen Heath, Easton Area Public Library, Easton, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Darwin’s legendary five-year voyage to South America aboard the Beagle forms the centerpiece of this informative picture book for confident readers. Lasky begins with Darwin’s childhood as a poor but remarkably curious student; he landed his spot as the naturalist on the Beagle more due to his enthusiasm than any standing in the scientific field. With clarity and style, Lasky recounts the puzzling things that he found on the trip, explores the questions he began asking, and hints at the conclusions he would arrive at, both in terms of biology and geology. Trueman’s skillful blend of inks, watercolors, pencils, gouache, and collage nicely capture Darwin’s fascination with the natural world, with fanciful scenes of Darwin peering through ferns, exploring islands, and even riding a giant turtle. With only a quick rundown of the hullabaloo surrounding the publication of The Origin of Species, the focus here is clearly on Darwin’s travels, and this accessible jaunt will easily situate the man as a natural adventurer in kids’ minds before he becomes just another stuffy old scientist. Grades 3-5. --Ian Chipman

More About the Author

Hi Readers! Thanks for coming by my author page. I've written all sorts of books - from fantasy about animals to books about science. One of my favorite animal fantasy series, Guardians of Ga'Hoole, is a major motion picture. I liked writing about Ga'Hoole so much that I decided to revisit that world in a different series, Wolves of the Beyond. I've recently added a new Guardians book: The Rise of A Legend, the story of Ezylryb, the great sage of the Ga'Hoole Tree. Another new book just came out, the first in the Horses of the Dawn series. I think of it as an equine retelling of the Spanish conquest of the New World. Visit my website, www.kathrynlasky.com for the latest news. All my best, Kathryn

Customer Reviews

I like the way it dealt with Darwin's inner conflict regarding evolution and his and Emma's religious beliefs.
K. Moulton
Lasky's tellings of specific anecdotes, along with the humorous pictures by Matthew Trueman that accompany the text, create an interesting story for the reader.
Dianne Batista
This type of simple biography makes it easier for the reluctant student to learn about a subject as the marvelous visual imagery can be a great help.
D. Fowler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By K. Moulton on February 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I love this book for read aloud. It is a bit long for one sitting, but I prepared my students and they paid attention the entire time. It is beautifully illustrated. I have a class of fifth graders and I thought the reading level was just right. I like the way it dealt with Darwin's inner conflict regarding evolution and his and Emma's religious beliefs.
I would recommend it as a way of studying Darwin.
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Format: Hardcover
There were a lot of interesting things in the house for Charles to
look at. It was not the kind of house where children were told things
like, "children must look, but not touch." Even his mother had
interesting things to look at, for she raised pigeons. One of his
favorite things to do was to collect beetles. He even learned the
names of them. Charles was learning many things, but not in school.
After his mother died, his father became exasperated with him. "You
. . . will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family "

When he was sixteen, he was sent off to college to learn medicine, but
he still didn't get the picture. His grades were lousy and he still
was interested in collecting things as he was a born naturalist, not a
student. Studying to be a doctor was definitely not in the cards so
his father sent him to the University of Cambridge to become a cleric.
And he was still interested in collecting things. Then one day a
letter came from a friend that would change his life forever. In 1831
he boarded the naval ship Beagle and would embark on a trip that would
change his life and would forever alter the way the world thought
about evolution.

This type of simple biography makes it easier for the reluctant
student to learn about a subject as the marvelous visual imagery can
be a great help. The book was adventurous and fun. It makes the
somewhat distant character, Charles Darwin, come alive for the reader.
Obviously this book is not for the creationist, but would make a
lovely addition to the home or classroom.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Batista on July 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Kathryn Lasky tells the story of Charles Darwin and his quest to learn more about the natural world. We learn of Darwin's childhood and his father's concern over his nonconformity. Charles did not do well in school and preferred to be with the bugs rather than the books. As readers, we follow his life aboard The Beagle, home to England and end with the publication of The Origin of Species. Lasky's tellings of specific anecdotes, along with the humorous pictures by Matthew Trueman that accompany the text, create an interesting story for the reader. A child can easily empathize with only eating raisins or Darwin allowing his own children "the run of the house." This book is perfect for introducing Charles Darwin and his adventures to young readers and beyond.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ulyyf on July 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is the sort of picture book that's really better suited for the older grades. It's NOT well-suited as a read-aloud, and it's written on a "6.8" reading level... that's right, suited for the end of the 6th grade.

It offers an ample view of Darwin's life and research. I've put it away for now, though, as my nieces simply aren't old enough and there's no room on their shelves for books they aren't reading!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Debbie S. Glade on April 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
Author Kathryn Lasky did extensive research before writing One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin. She read many books, audited evolutionary biology classes and even attended lab sessions to look at bones at Harvard University. What resulted from her impressive preparation is a factual account of Darwin's fascinating life, from childhood to his later years.

Before getting into the meat of the story, I simply cannot go further without mentioning the captivating illustrations in this book. Artist Matthew Trueman used a most unusual assembly of mediums to achieve the uniquely spectacular illustrations you see here. These included layers of acrylic ink, watercolors, graphite pencils, gouache paints and colored pencils. He then brilliantly used collage elements like paper, string, flowers and leaves to really give the illustrations true depth. You've simply just got to see these illustrations for yourself to appreciate them.

Now back to the story . . . Readers of One Beetle Too Many will not only learn about the focus of Charles Darwin's passion - nature - but also of his struggles. As a young boy in the early 1800s, Charles was a failing student, though his sister shined in school. His disappointed father urged him to join the clergy, but although Darwin spent many hours each day reading the Bible, his passion was with nature. After a friend invited him on a long voyage to South America to serve as the naturalist on board a ship called The Beagle, Darwin had found his true calling. I like that this book mentions his early struggles so children can understand that not everyone who is smart and accomplished successfully mastered every aspect of his early life.
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