Kirkus Reviews QR Code
GREGOR MENDEL by Cheryl Bardoe


The Friar Who Grew Peas

by Cheryl Bardoe & illustrated by Jos. A. Smith

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-8109-5475-3
Publisher: Abrams

The life and work of the father of modern genetic study receive a quiet exploration in this offering, published in association with The Field Museum. Newcomer Bardoe describes Mendel’s childhood in the country, his hunger for learning so great he went without food to pay for his lessons and eventually joined the Abbey of St. Thomas, a community of intellectuals, in order to make the pursuit of knowledge his life’s work. His groundbreaking experiments with peas justifiably occupy the bulk of the account, the descriptions of the dogged work of preparation and control painting a portrait of patience and scientific single-mindedness. Smith’s gentle illustrations fit their deliberate subject perfectly; the diagrams of the hybrid peas themselves are a marvel of clarity. The pacing of page-turns is a masterly recreation on paper of the cycle of waiting and discovery Mendel himself experienced over the years-long course of his study. The narrative moves back and forth from hard science, collegially explaining such complex concepts as genetic traits and dominant and recessive genes, to the vicissitudes of scholarship, sympathetically revealing how Mendel’s genius was overlooked during his life. A lovely tribute. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)