Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Darwin Saw - Rosalyn Schanzer

The Journey That Changed the World
National Geographic Society
For: grades 3/4 and up
48 pgs.
Rating: 5
Published: 2009
Read: Feb. 25, 2009 B&N
Endpapers: Forest Green
Really attractive cover - I'd love a poster of this book, also the "family tree" of the evolutionary theory (p. 39) is poster-worthy

This appears to be a well-researched book. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) set off in 1831, at the age of 22, on a 5-year voyage around the world. He traveled with Captain Roert FitzRoy on The Beagle , obtaining specimens and recording observations for an amazing amount of species that no one in Europe had ever seen. Along the coast of South America, past the tip and up to the Galapagos Islands, across to Tahiti - we are his companions as he smells and survives - riding with gauchos on the pampas, watching volcanos erupt, feeling earthquakes shake, eating exotic cuisine and taking in the world. We see dinosaur bones and giant iguanas and unique shells and exotic flowers.

The last part of the book tells of his arrival back in England, his further studies and writing, his family, and how he shared his reasearch with the world. Pgs. 46-47 show a world map detailing his voyage.

Illustrated beautifully. Written in graphic format, with what looks like his own words - if so he was a great writer, using cool, sophisticated (but understandable) vocabulary. Sidebars with additional information keep the story flowing. Great book - I want to read it again. And even if you find yourself in the midst of the controversy about science vs. faith, this is a wonderful biography of a world-famous scientist.

"Forests and flowers and birds I saw in great perfection. If the eye attempts to follow the flight of a gaudy butterfly, it is arrested by some strange tree or fruit; if watching an insect one forgets it in the stranger flower it is crawling over." Mmm, mmm good.