ONE BEETLE TOO MANY

THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF CHARLES DARWIN

The upcoming bicentennial of Darwin’s birth has already increased interest in his life and theories. Lasky, whose lively style has brought innumerable individuals, both well-known and obscure, to life for young audiences, makes an unexpected misstep here with a conversational narrative that is confusingly disjointed. A teeny-tiny note on the copyright page acknowledges that the event that gives the book its title, a collecting expedition in which Darwin transported three unusual beetles at once by holding one in each hand and the third in his mouth, did not take place in his young childhood, as implied by her version. Changing history, even in so minor a way, is an inauspicious beginning. From there Lasky jumps from event to event with little transition, stuffing Darwin’s life into the remaining pages, an approach which seems likely to confuse child readers. Trueman’s illustrations, though appealing, contribute to the confusion. The inclusion of various natural objects adds interest and complements the subject, but the oversized heads and button eyes of his characters create an incongruously cartoonish feel. A disappointing effort. (Biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7636-1436-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2008

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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THE PUMPKIN BOOK

The Pumpkin Book (32 pp.; $16.95; Sept. 15; 0-8234-1465-5): From seed to vine and blossom to table, Gibbons traces the growth cycle of everyone’s favorite autumn symbol—the pumpkin. Meticulous drawings detail the transformation of tiny seeds to the colorful gourds that appear at roadside stands and stores in the fall. Directions for planting a pumpkin patch, carving a jack-o’-lantern, and drying the seeds give young gardeners the instructions they need to grow and enjoy their own golden globes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1465-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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