Young Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle

Young Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle

by Rut Ashby, Suzanne Duranceau

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Amy S. Hansen
This spellbinding book takes us on a marvelous trip. We travel with the twenty-something Darwin as he is seasick in the Atlantic, caught in an earthquake in Chile, and tries to ride the tortoises of the Galapagos Islands. Ashby writes: "Darwin was curious to find out what it was like to ride on one of these great, peaceful beasts. �Frequently,' he wrote, �I got on their backs, and then giving a few raps on the hinder parts of their shells, they would rise up and walk away.' Their lumbering made it almost impossible for him to keep his balance though. After a few steps, he would fall off." The thought of Darwin sliding off a tortoise into the sand goes a long way to dispel the image of the white-bearded stuffy, scientist. The voyage was a great adventure; indeed, it seems to be one that is too wild for nonfiction, except that it is true. Throughout this account of the trip, Ashby skillfully emphasizes the observations that make Darwin sit up and take notice. This preparation allows her to explain evolution fairly easily later in the book, when writing about Darwin's return to England. The book should fit in well with any mid-grade and upper elementary science class. It will also appeal to anyone who just wants a good story. Backmatter includes short biographies of Darwin's companions, a bibliography and a list of recommended reading material. Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen
School Library Journal

Gr 4-6

Beginning with the letter inviting him to sail aboard the Beagle , this traditional biography relates Darwin's life with an emphasis on the trip that led him to forge his theory about natural selection. Ashby makes good use of Darwin's own writing, sprinkling quotes throughout the text, which allow his adventures and opinions to come to life. A lengthy author's note at the end includes small black-and-white photos and useful information about science in Darwin's time, the Oxford debate, the Fuegian natives onboard the ship, and Darwin's presence on the British 10-pound note. Deborah Hopkinson's Who Was Charles Darwin? (Grosset & Dunlap, 2005) is shorter and includes many illustrations and sidebars. David C. King's Charles Darwin: A Photographic Story of a Life (DK, 2007) is also shorter, a bit harder to read, and filled with colorful photos, sketches, and sidebars. With its comfortably large font and the requisite more-than-one-hundred pages, this biography will work well for book reports, rather than research reports, providing accurate and readable information about the scientist and his journey.-Ellen Heath, Easton Area Public Library, Easton, PA

Kirkus Reviews
Finding its niche neatly in this Season of Darwin, this slim volume recounts the world-changing voyage of the Beagle and what its young naturalist found while on it. Drawing heavily from primary sources, Ashby sketches out her protagonist with his own words, using them liberally throughout. The author couches the tale as an adventure, and what an adventure it is: Darwin encounters slavery, rides with Argentine gauchos, negotiates with tin-pot dictators, makes the acquaintance of various indigenous peoples, traverses the Andes and survives both an earthquake and a volcanic eruption-never ceasing to observe keenly all the while. The account ends with a brief sketch of the rest of his long life, including the publication of The Origin of Species, making it something of a mirror to such works as Deborah Heiligman's Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith (2009), which concentrates on the scientist's years of thought. Labeled an early reader by the publisher, the vocabulary and complexity better suit upper-elementary and middle-school readers, despite its slenderness. (map, author's note, bibliography, suggested reading) (Biography. 10-14)

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Product Details

Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)
1020L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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