This introduction to Darwin focuses on his five-year exploratory journey on the HMS Beagle.
Young Charles loves searching for insects, birds, rocks, and bones, and he also loves sorting his treasures. After finishing school at Cambridge, he’s recommended by his botany professor as naturalist for the Beagle’s mapmaking mission around South America. Collecting specimens and recording “big observations about the tiniest of creatures” in his journal, Charles often remains behind to explore while the Beagle sails the coastline. The forthright narrative highlights Charles’ coming-of-age as a young man and scientist. In Tierra del Fuego, he observes the food chain: “The bigger animals couldn’t survive without eating the smaller ones. Charles saw how their lives were all connected.” Exploring the Andes, Charles’ speculations about the effects of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis are proven when he finds seashells embedded in high-elevation rocks. Thermes’ pencil-and-watercolor maps and illustrations are charming, accessible, and idealized. Charles resembles a boy throughout, save for his long sideburns. Some spreads group many species together in tableaux designed for browsing rather than scientific exactitude. The famous Galápagos Islands stopover gets special attention, and a cross section of the departing Beagle shows tortoises—for eating—in the hold. Endpapers map the global journey and include a timeline, some of which is hidden behind the front flap.
A notable choice for both STEM curricula and family sharing. (notes, sources, further reading, “fun facts”) (Informational picture book. 5-8)