From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2—This read-along picture book biography (Holiday House, 1999) of George Washington Carver by David Adler presents information about his life, including his birth into slavery, education, scientific accomplishments, and death in 1943. Carver's interest in plants began as a child when he had a secret garden. He received a degree in agriculture from Iowa State University and used his interest in plants to help African Americans by finding ways to use sweet potatoes and peanuts to replace the dependence on cotton as a crop in the South. Carver was an educator as well as a researcher, and was head of the agriculture department at Tuskegee Institute. Some vocabulary will need clarification. Dan Brown's watercolor illustrations reflect the pastoral nature of Carver's life. Illustrations depicting a lynching that Carver witnessed and his own kidnapping are painted in dark tones to reflect the evil of the events. The mention of a lynching may be disturbing to young children. Nathan Hinton's expressive, well-paced narration reflects Carver's gentle nature. The story is read with and without page-turn signals. The book also includes a time line of Carver's life and an "Author's Note" about his role in the education of African Americans. Teachers will find this easy-to-read biography appropriate for African-American studies as well as for science units.—Ann Elders, Mark Twain Elementary School, Federal Way, WA
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The newest entry in Adler's Picture Book Biography series introduces George Washington Carver. Focusing more on Carver's life than his work, the book begins with his birth into slavery on the Carver's farm and does not spare youngsters from hearing that "raiders kidnapped him and his mother and took them to Arkansas," a fact illustrated with a shadowy painting of eight ominous, hooded figures, nor that he once witnessed a lynching: "a mob of white men pulled a black prisoner out of jail, tied him with a rope, and dragged him for five blocks. The prisoner was hanged and later burned." Though the child's father was dead and his mother was never found, Mr. Carver brought George back to the farm, where he and his wife raised George and his brother. Illustrated with attractive watercolor paintings, the book follows Carver's life, his education, and his accomplishments as he worked in scientific research and teaching to understand nature and to make a difference to his people. A useful addition to a long-running series, though the references to vigilante activities indicate a somewhat older audience than Adler's other biographies. Carolyn Phelan
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