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An exceptionally crafted visual biography of a pioneering entomologist and naturalist who lived a life devoted to discovery.

The remarkable contributions of Maria Sibylla Merian, a 17th-century self-taught artist and the first person to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly, are not as well-known as those of John James Audubon, Charles Darwin, and Carl Linnaeus, but her discoveries preceded and influenced those later naturalists.

At a time when the most learned adhered to the Aristotelian theory of “spontaneous generation,” that insects came from “dew, dung, dead animals, or mud” and were “beasts of the Devil,” Merian was convinced otherwise. Captivated by the mysterious lives of insects, she wanted to know where they came from. Flouting the conventions of the time to pursue her passion for insects made Merian’s life difficult, but she never allowed adversity to interfere with her dogged pursuit of knowledge. Travelers’ stories inspired her to take an arduous journey to the Dutch colony of Surinam to observe, document, and collect exotic species. With techniques learned from her stepfather, Merian became an accomplished artist, rendering in beautiful, extraordinary detail the intricacies of caterpillars, flies, moths, butterflies, and other insects. She recorded her keen observations in a research journal and published three books about her discoveries. This fascinating account of Merian’s life and work is beautifully designed and embellished with both Sidman’s photographs of what Merian studied and images of her artwork. Informative captions identify and connect each image’s relevance to Merian’s life and work.

An exceptionally crafted visual biography of a pioneering entomologist and naturalist who lived a life devoted to discovery. (glossary, timeline, source notes, bibliography, further reading) (Biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-71713-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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An enchanting book about the latest research on dolphins, and how people benefit from the new information. Cerullo (The Octopus, 1997, etc.) spent a week at the Dolphin Research Center in Florida, and learned that dolphins “deserved their reputation for friendliness, playfulness, complex social behavior, and group loyalty.” The US Navy studies dolphins to learn about hydrodynamics, echolocation, and deep-diving ability “in order to apply these principles to the design of Navy ships and submarines.” Readers will be fascinated by the descriptions of how dolphins “see” through sonar, and by one of the most interesting roles for dolphins, in therapy programs with children who are coping with cancer, disabilities, or depression. With beautiful full-color photographs, the presentation is appealing and incisive. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-525-65263-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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“In 1875 there were perhaps fifty million of them. Just twenty-five years later nearly every one of them was gone.” The author of many nonfiction books for young people (Bridges; Truck; Giants of the Highways, etc.) tells the story of the American bison, from prehistory, when Bison latifrons walked North America along with the dinosaurs, to the recent past when the Sioux and other plains Indians hunted the familiar bison. Robbins uses historic photographs, etchings, and paintings to show their sad history. To the Native Americans of the plains, the buffalo was central to their way of life. Arriving Europeans, however, hunted for sport, slaughtering thousands for their hides, or to clear the land for the railroad, or farmers. One telling photo shows a man atop a mountain of buffalo skulls. At the very last moment, enough individuals “came to their senses,” and worked to protect the remaining few. Thanks to their efforts, this animal is no longer endangered, but the author sounds a somber note as he concludes: “the millions are gone, and they will never come back.” A familiar story, well-told, and enhanced by the many well-chosen period photographs. (photo credits) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83025-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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