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The Humblebee Hunter: Inspired by the Life and Experiments of Charles Darwin and His Children Hardcover – February 2, 2010

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 610L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142311356X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423113560
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.2 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,108,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1–5—This fictionalized account of the Darwin household offers readers an introduction to both the renowned naturalist and scientific inquiry. Young Henrietta, who is clearly a kindred spirit, describes some of her father's adventures as well as experiments that she and her siblings performed. "We grew up asking what? and why? and how? When Father studied worms, Lizzie and I stuck knitting needles in the ground to try to measure their holes." Etty is in the kitchen reluctantly learning how to bake a honey cake, and when her father enters the house and sees her covered in flour, shaker in hand, he becomes excited. "I could almost hear his mind buzzing with an idea, a problem, a pattern to figure out-an experiment." The entire family runs out to conduct "The Great Bee Experiment" to determine how many flowers a humblebee visits in a minute. Notes about Darwin and his family are appended. The delicate, stylized illustrations, outlined in black and washed in natural shades of green and brown with spots of color, depict an amiable country Victorian household. Pair this inspiring read-aloud with Peter Sís's The Tree of Life (Farrar, 2003) and encourage students to question and observe the world around them.—Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Joining the bevy of recent books about Darwin, this title takes a domestic tack. The father of 10, the scientist passed along his passion for questioning nature to his children. This fictional story, narrated by his daughter Henrietta, introduces the Darwin family and follows the brood through an experiment it conducts to see how many flowers a bee can come into contact with in one minute. After dusting the bees with flour, the children happily run around the garden, counting each landing the bees make. The ending is abrupt; the delightful interlude, and the story, finishes when the children hear the word “Stop!” Puzzlingly, the narrative never offers any scientific conclusions, which, together with the sudden conclusion, keeps this book from fully blossoming. The author’s notes provide vital context (and define “humblebee”), though, and Corace’s illustrations pleasantly provide a nineteenth-century feel. Grades K-2. --Andrew Medlar

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bri on July 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As bees drone and birds sing out in song outside, Etty Darwin sits reluctantly indoors learning how to bake a honey cake. But when her father, Charles, beckons for her to bring a salt shaker out to him, she's gone in a flash, eager to help her father with a new experiment: how many times a humblebee (also known as a bumblebee to us 21st century dwellers!) will visit in a minute.

Because Etty isn't just a child of a curious father - she's the daughter of Charles Darwin, who always taught his children to ask "Why, how, what?" and encouraged exploring their world.

Deborah Hopkinson has presented picture book biographies accounts of various historical figures but The Humblebee Hunter offers a lesser-seen side of Charles Darwin with his family.

Darwin was a collector, Etty notes, not just of ideas, but of questions: Why? (It seems he collected children too, he had 10 of them!)

What I liked about The Humblebee Hunter was the natural and gentle way it portrayed with his children, involving them in his experiments. I also loved the folk art illustrations by Jen Corace. The beauty of them is in the colors of browns, and greens, the color of nature. The text also has energy as well - as the counting began, the font grew larger, bolder. I love how the children and thus the reader are brought into the exictement of counting.

Nowdays, we probably wouldn't be entertained by such experiments, but The Humblebee Hunter shows a simple activity turned into scientific experiment by Darwin. The only drawback of the book is its abrupt end. I think an ending showing Darwin discussing his findings or something else involving the children in his work would've been a great ending. The lovely illustrations and lively Darwin children make up for this.. It'd probably be a fun read-a-long only if the children counted along, otherwise it's a book to enjoy alone. I like any book that encourages a child to ask Why?
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By William Pelham on December 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
good child reading
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More About the Author

Deborah Hopkinson is as award-winning of picture books, fiction, and nonfiction for young readers. In 2013 she received a Robert F. Sibert Honor and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award honor for Titanic: Voices from the Disaster.

She has won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text twice, for A Band of Angels and Apples to Oregon. Sky Boys, How They Built the Empire State Building, was a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor awardee. She lives near Portland, Oregon.

Deborah's most recent book, The Great Trouble, A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel was named a Best Book of 2013 by School Library Journal.

Visit her on the web at www.deborahhopkinson.com

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