Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World

Overview

Once you are aware of the wonder and beauty of earth, you will want to learn about it," wrote Rachel Carson, the pioneering environmentalist. Rachel found many adventurous ways to study nature. She went diving to investigate coral reefs and tracked alligators through the Florida Everglades on a rumbling "glades buggy". However, one of the bravest things she did was to write and publish Silent Spring, a book pointing out the dangerous effects of chemicals on the living world. Powerful men tried to stop publication...

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Overview

Once you are aware of the wonder and beauty of earth, you will want to learn about it," wrote Rachel Carson, the pioneering environmentalist. Rachel found many adventurous ways to study nature. She went diving to investigate coral reefs and tracked alligators through the Florida Everglades on a rumbling "glades buggy". However, one of the bravest things she did was to write and publish Silent Spring, a book pointing out the dangerous effects of chemicals on the living world. Powerful men tried to stop publication of the book, but Rachel and her publishers persisted, and Silent Spring went on to become the book that woke people up to the harmful impact humans were having on our planet.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lawlor explores Rachel Carson’s development as a scientist and writer, beginning with a childhood spent reading and exploring nature. Carson (1907–1964) attended college, obtaining her master’s degree in biology (a formidable accomplishment for a woman at the time). But despite her determination to become a scientist, she was responsible for supporting her family following the death of her father. Slowly, Carson’s writing gained attention, and her dedication to protecting the environment from pollutants led to her magnum opus, Silent Spring. Beingessner’s light-filled paint and ink illustrations have an understated, 1950s-era grace, which is complemented by Lawlor’s quietly contemplative prose. Carson emerges as a proud, conscientious woman who never allowed the constraints of her era to interfere with her convictions. An epilogue elaborates on the significance of Silent Spring. Ages 6–10. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Karen Leggett
There were not any national programs encouraging girls to study science when Rachel Carson went to college in the 1920s, but there was Mary Scott Skinker, a lively professor who convinced her to pursue a career in biology. "When she stood beside the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, she lost her heart to a world of restless water and sky." Lawlor gives young readers a fine sense of the person behind the famous books. There were small trials like feeling awkward at parties and major challenges like supporting her mother and other family members after her father died. But Carson was selfless and determined, publishing her best-selling masterpiece Silent Spring in 1962, after she had been diagnosed with cancer. "I could never again listen happily to a thrush song if I had not done all I could." Beingessner is sensitive to detail in the gentle watercolors of her wildlife illustrations, but Carson seems thin and too stylized for a woman of such strong character. A rich and lengthy epilogue plus source notes conclude this thoughtful and appealing introduction to a woman who proved just how much difference one person can make. Reviewer: Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—As she did with Helen Keller: Rebellious Spirit (Holiday House, 2001), Lawlor has presented a concise and lively picture of her subject. Using language heavy with imagery ("Her camera captured four eggs, mottle white and brown, precious as shining fruit"), she discusses Carson's early years, including her innate love of nature and her early desire to become a writer. She describes Carson's struggles to support her frequently impoverished family as well as her fight to carve a place for herself at a time when women scientists were scoffed at. The controversy and impact of the publication of Silent Spring are not dealt with extensively in the main text as it ends with Carson's premature death at age 56, but a detailed epilogue supplies the needed information. Source notes reveal Lawlor's extensive research and the respect she has for her subject. Beingessner's tempera and ink illustrations do a fine job of capturing the natural world that Carson loved so much. For a slightly younger audience than Joseph Bruchac's Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder (Fulcrum, 2004), this book is a worthy introduction to a woman whose work still influences environmental decisions today.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Silent Spring did indeed change the world, but Rachel Carson's story cannot be folded easily into 32 pages. By trying to pack so much of the complexity of the naturalist's life and work into this compressed format, awkward construction and lack of clarity abound. Her family owned 65 acres of woods and fields, but her father struggled to support them as a traveling salesman. Her mother is described as "doting," then "fiercely proud," then "stern-faced" as Rachel goes off to college to study writing as well as the plants and animals she examined so closely as a child. At 28, Rachel had her whole extended family to support, and she did so as a full-time biologist at the Bureau of Fisheries. Her Silent Spring, which carefully documented the effects of insecticides such as DDT on bird and animal life and ultimately on people, launched a huge governmental effort to eliminate that threat. The story ends with her death, at age 56 in 1964, with details of the revolution she initiated only in the epilogue. Beingessner's pictures are attractive and well-constructed, as Rachel grows and changes (her clothing elegantly reflecting each time period) beside the fields, forests, waters and oceans she loved and studied. Ultimately, too many unconnected facts are dropped in to the text to help children understand her life and accomplishments. (source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823423705
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 467,056
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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