WHAT MR DARWIN SAW

Joining the spate of biographies issued to mark the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth, this covers the great scientist’s career in snapshots. It opens with scenes of him gunning down birds and catching rats as a feckless youth and closes with a view of the white-bearded sage delivering a simple explanation of natural selection on a chalkboard-style spread. In between, readers follow him from the famous incident with the three new kinds of beetles (one in each hand, the third—briefly—in his mouth) to stops and discoveries during his long voyage aboard the Beagle and the furor following the publication of his magnum opus. They will get some sense of both Darwin’s character and the significant observations of nature in action that he recorded. The authors convey all of this in a mix of first- and third-person captions matched to watercolors that are freely drawn but detailed enough to show, for instance, telling differences in the beaks of Galápagos finches. At the opposite end of the accessibility scale from Peter Sís’s hyper-ornate Tree of Life (2003), this will provide younger readers with an accurate, if sketchy, introduction to Darwin’s big ideas. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-84507-970-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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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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