Darwin by Alice B. McGinty, Mary Azarian |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Darwin

Darwin

by Alice B. McGinty, Mary Azarian
     
 

Filled with the fascinating words of Charles Darwin—designed as handwritten entries—this picture book biography reveals the assembling of a profound idea: the survival of the fittest. Two hundred years after his birth, 150 years after the publication of his ORIGIN OF SPECIES, this thought-provoking, splendidly ilustrated account invites us into the

Overview

Filled with the fascinating words of Charles Darwin—designed as handwritten entries—this picture book biography reveals the assembling of a profound idea: the survival of the fittest. Two hundred years after his birth, 150 years after the publication of his ORIGIN OF SPECIES, this thought-provoking, splendidly ilustrated account invites us into the private thoughts, hopes and fears of a soul who forever changed the way we see the world.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Azarian’s woodcuts are filled with cheerful color and capture the moments in Darwin’s life that will most intrigue children. With its cover made to look like one of his own battered brown leather notebooks, showing the naturalist surrounded by his beloved specimens, this is a pleasing package for children just learning about the man and his work."—School Library Journal, starred review

"McGinty does a fine job of communicating Darwin’s personal humility as well as his passion for exploring the natural world, his tireless work to understand it better, and his reluctance to publish a theory that seemed to contradict religious teaching. The interplay of the clearly written third-person text with Darwin’s own words and occasional quotes from his contemporaries creates a multifaceted view that leads to a broader understanding. Biographies of scientists can be challenging to write for an audience unfamiliar with their research, but this one succeeds in introducing Darwin and his work to a surprisingly young group."—Booklist, starred review

An accessible and thoroughly engaging biography of the much-profiled scientist, this easy-to-follow narrative is enriched by striking illustrations and excerpts from Darwin’s own writings. McGinty lays out the major events in Darwin’s life clearly and both enhances readers’ understanding and piques their interest by choosing the accompanying quotations carefully. Her writing is smooth and conversational, and while she compresses a large amount of information into only a few pages, readers never feel rushed or confused. In addition to describing his famous voyage on the Beagle, the author focuses on Darwin’s long struggle to reconcile his discoveries with religious teachings, giving readers a better understanding not only of what Darwin posited but also the impact it had on his world—and ours. Azarian’s woodcuts, hand-tinted with watercolors, showcase the wonders Darwin saw on his voyage beautifully and also illuminate the everyday environment of home and family. Presenting the quotations in script on facsimile paper fragments to evoke the style of the time adds to the overall appeal. Exquisite and enlightening."—Kirkus, starred review

"Azarian’s woodcuts (tinted with watercolors) evoke the naive art of the period; the beauty of the artist’s natural materials partners nicely with Darwin’s process of nature observation and scientific deduction that is stressed throughout. Explanations of natural selection are particularly strong . . . Nearly every spread contains a parchment-like “letter” containing edited portions of Darwin’s diary and letters. These quotes validate the main narrative and form an abbreviated chronological record for important events and thoughts in Charles’s life. A brief author’s note, source material, and full documentation complete this book."—Horn Book

"It's a concise, compelling children's introduction to a tricky and difficult subject. With meticulous source notes and an extensive bibliography, this is no Everyone Poops."—Wired Magazine

Publishers Weekly

Darwin and the natural world that fascinated him come into clear focus in this picture-book biography that pairs accessible text with handsome woodcut art. Tinted with watercolors, Caldecott Medalist Azarian's (Snowflake Bentley) illustrations convey the era in which Darwin lived and his devotion to his work (a humorous scene shows Darwin and his brother fleeing the shed where they conducted chemistry experiments, as green gas billows out). Especially compelling are Azarian's depictions of the young naturalist's five-year voyage aboard the HMS Beagle; he's seen excavating fossils and encountering rare species on the Galápagos Islands. McGinty (Thank You, World) includes excerpts from Darwin's correspondence and notebook entries, which illuminate his private concerns and self-questioning. The author also effectively incorporates Darwin's thoughts into her own writing; after the publication of The Origin of the Species, he "braced himself for the worst. Would people say his work was not complete? Would they believe he was speaking out against the church?" These complementary narratives provide a solid portrait offering insight into Darwin's inner self as well as his accomplishments. Ages 6-9. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
It is difficult to put together a biography for youngsters. This team has done an admirable job with a most complicated and challenging subject, Charles Darwin. The book jacket and cover are even modeled on Darwin's own notebooks. In straightforward and fairly simple language, Darwin's life is explained so that he seems a real person for the reader. Darwin's endless curiosity, his love of collecting, his interest in scientific experiments, and his love of careful, thorough observation are all faithfully described. The explanation of his many false starts in various careers and his ultimate satisfaction with his years sailing aboard the HMS Beagle is given fairly and accurately. We also learn about Darwin's doubts about his theory and why it took him so many years to finally publish his famous book, The Origin of Species. Quotes from his own journals are found throughout, and these provide additional insight into the thinking of this man who was responsible for changing the way we view our world. Caldecott-winner Azarian's watercolor woodcut illustrations beautifully enhance the entire book and provide added depth as they vividly show life as it was during the 1800s. Put this title at the top of the definite purchase list. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
School Library Journal

Gr 3-5

This picture-book biography emphasizes the scientist's curiosity and determination to learn the truth about nature. Most spreads contain two or three paragraphs of clear expository text in a comfortably large font, a handwritten quotation from a primary source, and a lovely watercolor-tinted woodcut. The text begins with Darwin's childhood interest in collecting specimens and experimenting with chemistry and moves through his education, his experiences on the Beagle , and the development of the theory of evolution. Although the topic does not dominate the book, McGinty takes on the issue of religion. She says, "Charles himself finally came to believe that there were no answers to his questions about God. He saw the universe as too amazing not to have been created by a God." The endnotes and source list are comprehensive but, appropriately, do not intrude on the easy-to-read text. Azarian's woodcuts are filled with cheerful color and capture the moments in Darwin's life that will most intrigue children. With its cover made to look like one of his own battered brown leather notebooks, showing the naturalist surrounded by his beloved specimens, this is a pleasing package for children just learning about the man and his work.-Ellen Heath, Easton Area Public Library, Easton, PA

Kirkus Reviews
An accessible and thoroughly engaging biography of the much-profiled scientist, this easy-to-follow narrative is enriched by striking illustrations and excerpts from Darwin's own writings. McGinty lays out the major events in Darwin's life clearly and both enhances readers' understanding and piques their interest by choosing the accompanying quotations carefully. Her writing is smooth and conversational, and while she compresses a large amount of information into only a few pages, readers never feel rushed or confused. In addition to describing his famous voyage on the Beagle, the author focuses on Darwin's long struggle to reconcile his discoveries with religious teachings, giving readers a better understanding not only of what Darwin posited but also the impact it had on his world-and ours. Azarian's woodcuts, hand-tinted with watercolors, showcase the wonders Darwin saw on his voyage beautifully and also illuminate the everyday environment of home and family. Presenting the quotations in script on facsimile paper fragments to evoke the style of the time adds to the overall appeal. Exquisite and enlightening. (author's, source notes) (Biography. 7-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618995318
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/06/2009
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 11.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
1060L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian is a consummate gardener and a skilled and original woodblock artist. Many of her prints are heavily influenced by her love of gardening, and her turn-of-the-century farmhouse is surrounded by gardens that reveal an artist's vision. Mary Azarian received the 1999 Caldecott Medal for SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. She lives, skis, and gardens in Vermont.

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