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.
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