Kirkus Reviews QR Code
WHAT MR DARWIN SAW by Mick Manning


by Mick Manning and Brita Granström & illustrated by Mick Manning & Brita Granström

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-84507-970-3
Publisher: Frances Lincoln

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)