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Tree Of Life Hardcover – September 1, 2003
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Here is a fascinating, detailed look at the life of Charles Darwin: naturalist, geologist, and independent thinker. In his author's note, Caldecott Honor illustrator Peter Sis (Starry Messenger, Tibet: Through the Red Box) writes that Darwin always regretted not learning how to draw. However, he could and did take "dense and vivid" written notes, from which Sis drew his inspiration. Readers will spend hours poring over the gorgeous, intricately crafted pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations depicting layer upon layer of Darwins life as he developed his theories about the origins of life and natural selection. Tidbits from Darwins extensive and legendary voyage on the Beagle, notes on Galapagos tortoises, bloodsucking benchuca bugs, and Toxodon skeletons, and particulars from his family life intermingle with each other--just as in real life. Crammed with a veritable muddle of diary entries, cameo portraits, diagrams, natural illustrations, maps, timelines, a gatefold spread, and narrative divided into "Public Life," "Private Life," and "Secret Life" blocks of text, The Tree of Life will certainly be overwhelming to some readers; for other, less linear thinkers, it will be sheer, chaotic delight. (Ages 9 and older) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
From School Library Journal
Grade 4 Up-Sis offers an impressive homage to the life and ideas of Darwin through a fully illustrated, multilayered narrative augmented with copious charts, maps, and sketches. Two strands of text recounting Darwin's youth from his own and his father's points of view run below picture blocks in several early pages. Soon smaller chunks of text, often taken from Darwin's journals, move across the spreads with a central image and copious small, framed vignettes and picture bits. Other pages are filled completely with rows of picture cards. The artist melds information into handsome constructions to explain first the long years of travel aboard the Beagle and then the naturalist's evolving ideas about the origin of species. He knew all along it was a troublesome notion, and Sis introduces many other scientists and thinkers who influenced his work or objected to it. A gatefold spread near the end of the book reproduces the title page of the famous book, here with swirling lines of explanation and illustration. Muted tones of blue, green, and tan, and finely hatched drawings in the manner of old prints lend a period look to the pages. Beautifully conceived and executed, the presentation is a humorous and informative tour de force that will absorb and challenge readers. Though linear in its chronology, the sweeping, circular design and shorthand catalog of species, people, and ideas encountered by Darwin is a fragmentary account. However, it's a fabulous, visually exciting introduction to the man, his ideas, and the science of the natural world.
Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
Also, I can appreciate the novelty of non-linear storytelling, but I feel like something's missing here the way it's laid out. It would benefit from a bit more structure, at least for a mind like mine.
But I'm also happy I had an excuse of buying it for my daughter, because I like it so much myself. It's a book to get lost in on a rainy afternoon, preferably in the company of a child, so you get amazed, again, by the wonder of life. Every bibliophile will appreciate this book for it's infinite care and love of detail. It's probably the best book by Peter Sis, and he's published quite a few great books.
Enjoy it - it's a little treasure of a book, so full of delicious details and inspiring ideas.