The Groundbreaking, Chance-Taking Life of George Washington Carver and Science and Invention in America

Overview

The multitalented hand of Cheryl Harness creates another winning combination of history, biography, and illustration: the inspiring story of a man who rose from slavery to worldwide fame as America’s Plant Doctor.

Follow the action as Confederate raiders kidnap young Carver—along with his mother and siblings—and sell them to Arkansas slaveholders. Here, whooping cough threatens George’s life, yet the disease will be the key to his future. Unable to work in the fields, he spends ...

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Overview

The multitalented hand of Cheryl Harness creates another winning combination of history, biography, and illustration: the inspiring story of a man who rose from slavery to worldwide fame as America’s Plant Doctor.

Follow the action as Confederate raiders kidnap young Carver—along with his mother and siblings—and sell them to Arkansas slaveholders. Here, whooping cough threatens George’s life, yet the disease will be the key to his future. Unable to work in the fields, he spends his days studying plants. His desire for knowledge leads him to the rich farmlands of Iowa, where he becomes the first black student—and later the first black faculty member—at the state university. Carver pioneers hundreds of new uses for plants and revolutionizes American agriculture by teaching farmers the value of rotating cotton with nitrogen-rich crops. Cheryl Harness’ lively narrative follows Carver’s rise to international fame: our hero dines at the White House, works with Henry Ford, and testifies to Congress. The book’s vivid illustrations are an invitation to step back in time and become an active participant in this compelling story.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 9 to 12.

George Washington Carver was born at the end of the Civil War. This was a turbulent period of American history, and his early life was marked by violence. From being kidnapped from his Missouri home where he was the infant of a slave to surviving whooping cough, George had a rough beginning. Since his mother and sister died in the kidnapping raid, the couple who had owned her paid George's ransom, raised him as their foster child, and gave him their last name. Young George was fascinated by the natural world and desperately wanted to learn. Because he was not white, he could not go to the neighborhood school. When he was about twelve, he left the Carvers' home and began the first of many adventures to seek an education and answers to his many questions. His quest took him from Missouri to Kansas and Iowa; eventually, it took him to Alabama as a teacher at the Tuskegee Institute. George excelled in science and its practical applications, as demonstrated by the many uses he came up with for peanuts. Author/illustrator Cheryl Harness maps the progress of invention around the world, placing Carver's life against the backdrop of a world inspired by innovation. An illustrated timeline runs across the bottom of most spreads, and famous events and inventors of Carver's day are included in the narrative. Detailed illustrations have been painstakingly created in pencil, retraced in ink, and enhanced with paint. With an engaging narrative style and deft handling of a wealth of information, Harness has created a unique biography of both a man and his contemporaries, the visionaries of their day. This title and others in the "Cheryl Harness History" series are perfectfor classroom use as launching points for thematic studies of historical eras, as well as studies of the individuals themselves. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis

School Library Journal

Gr 4-8- Harness presents Carver as a man who, regardless of constant hardship and racial prejudice, persevered to become a beloved teacher and devoted scientist. From the beginning, she puts his life in historical context by looking at the effects of racism on his career choices and by talking about the achievements and beliefs of his contemporaries, many of whom he knew. The author raises challenging questions throughout, especially when she discusses debates over whether Carver was truly a great scientist or more a public thinker who promoted science to help better understand the world. The lively prose style conveys his sense of passion and adventure about the man and his intellectual pursuits, and the simple black-and-white drawings add a further sense of drama. This is not just a good choice for biography assignments; it's also a strong recommendation for a nonfiction read-aloud and as a way to interest fiction readers in biography.-Michael Santangelo, Brooklyn Public Library, NY

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426301964
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 2/12/2008
  • Series: Cheryl Harness Histories Series
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Cheryl Harness is the author and/or illustrator of some 35 children’s books, including seven picture book biographies for National Geographic. She has a natural talent for making history fun for kids, injecting the "wow" factor into the lives of America’s historical heroes and heroines. She has won multiple awards and now lives in her historic hometown of Independence, MO. Visit Cheryl Harness at her Web site: www.cherylharness.com
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Table of Contents

Introduction     7
An Inordinate Desire for Knowledge     11
Mary of Diamond Grove
A Hard Beginning in a Harsh Place
The Larger World
A Green Thumb and a Hungry Mind
Sunshine and Shadow     29
The Wandering Years
Reconstruction
Jim Crow
Home on the Prairie
The Golden Door of Freedom     51
A Real Human Being
The Greatest Good
College Man
BTW and GWC     67
Riding the Southbound Train
Turn of the Century
Tuskegee Troubles
The Principal
The Sage of Tuskegee     93
Into the Light
War
Fame
A Crippled Nation
Gold Out of Straw, Plastic Out of Beans
War: The Sequel
A Peaceful Life in a Perilous World
Catching the Vision
And Then What?
More Information     133
Chronology     134
Science & Invention March On     136
Resources for Young Scientists and Inventors     138
Author's Resources     139
Index     141
Credits     143
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