Publishers are eager to take advantage of each new trend in education; the pushing of academics for younger and younger children presents numerous opportunities for textbook-like volumes aimed at early learners. Among the many subjects in the "Rookie Biographies" seriesincluding Rudolph Giuliani, Mother Teresa, and George W. BushRachel Carson is, indeed, a worthy choice, but how much can be presented in a format consisting of a black-and-white photograph on one page opposite a few short declarative sentences on its facing page? (The persistent reference to her as "Carson" may seem strange to many children, who do not normally refer to an adult woman by her last name alone.) Except for an early picture of the child Rachel with her little dog, the text is about her professional life and her books. Although book covers are shown in color, Silent Spring, oddly, is not pictured at all. The authors tell young readers that it was "a warning about using poison" and that "Soon there were laws to help keep the Earth and living things healthy. Carson helped make the world a better place." The complicated issues involved and Carson's achievement are neither engaging nor understandable for the very young. Considering the book's substantial price, teachers would be better advised to use scarce money for field trips exploring the environment and let students read about Carson later when they can more fully appreciate her work and understand that the problem has still not been so neatly solved. 2005, Children's Press/Scholastic, and Ages 4 to 7.
Barbara L. Talcroft