From School Library Journal
Grade 3–6—Among the new picture books about Darwin being published for his bicentennial birthday, this one stands up well. On the cover, a wide-eyed, handsome Charley Darwin peers through lush greenery at the top, and an equally wide-eyed and handsome monkey ignores him at the bottom. Inside, Schanzer uses Darwin's own words, taken from his journals, books, and letters, in the speech balloons of her graphic depiction of the voyage of the Beagle
. This is not a full biography, but begins with Darwin's acceptance of the offer to sail on the expedition and ends with the presentation of his theory of evolution in 1860. Bright, watercolor cartoons accurately portray landscapes and specimens while also creating a vivid sense of adventure. Schanzer's dedication is to her rabbi grandfather, who served as an advisor to Clarence Darrow at the Scopes trial, but in this book for young children, the controversies that surround Darwin's theory are not presented. Similar to Kathryn Lasky's One Beetle Too Many
(Candlewick), this title pairs up nicely with Alice McGinty's Darwin
(Houghton, both 2009) to give young readers a picture of the man and his adventures.—Ellen Heath, Easton Area Public Library, Easton, PA
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Fully illustrated with many colorful panels on each page, this large-format book introduces the life of Charles Darwin, beginning with his childhood and concentrating on his experiences during the voyage of the HMS Beagle, with some follow-up on his later life, especially the publication and response to the On the Origin of Species. Three different colors of print differentiate between quoted words (Darwin’s in brown; others’ in orange) and narrative text (in black). Though the pages have a “young” look, due in part to the naive style of the acrylic paintings, there’s plenty of information for older readers to absorb. The presentation ends with a double-page map showing the Beagle’s route and stops along the way. A source bibliography is appended, along with comments on the research, writing, and illustrations as well as a source note directing readers to an impressively meticulous Internet site where the quoted passages appear with changes (mainly abridgements) clearly indicated. Grades 3-6. --Carolyn Phelan