THE TREE OF LIFE

CHARLES DARWIN

Charles Darwin never learned to draw, so the record of his famous, five-year voyage on the Beagle consists solely of wonderfully detailed diaries, letters, and journals. He was not a “finished” naturalist when he joined the crew as a young man just out of college, but he was a topnotch observer. Sís’s superb visualization of Darwin’s diary entries makes a stunningly beautiful volume—gorgeously illustrated and designed, though crowded with detail and sometimes tiny print. Readers will spend hours poring over the pages, which, like the author’s Starry Messenger (1996), inventively places text, illustrations, charts, and maps throughout. Much information is imparted in illustrations and captions, and excerpts from Darwin’s diaries add authenticity. Unfortunately, the text never clearly explains what exactly Darwin’s ideas were and how he developed them. Young readers won’t see the connection between Darwin’s fieldwork and the theories derived from it. A fine introduction to Darwin, but a better explanation of the science, for older readers, can be found in Dorothy Hinshaw Patent’s Charles Darwin: The Life of a Revolutionary Thinker (2001). (author’s note) (Nonfiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-45628-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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WORLD WITHOUT FISH

The author of Cod (1997) successfully provides readers with a frightening look at the looming destruction of the oceans. Brief sections in graphic-novel format follow a young girl, Ailat, and her father over a couple of decades as the condition of the ocean grows increasingly dire, eventually an orange, slimy mess mostly occupied by jellyfish and leatherback turtles. At the end, Ailat’s young daughter doesn’t even know what the word fish means. This is juxtaposed against nonfiction chapters with topics including types of fishing equipment and the damage each causes, a history of the destruction of the cod and its consequences, the international politics of the fishing industry and the effects of pollution and global warming. The final chapter lists of some actions readers could take to attempt to reverse the damage: not eating certain types of fish, joining environmental groups, writing to government officials, picketing seafood stores that sell endangered fish, etc. Whenever an important point is to be made, font size increases dramatically, sometimes so that a single sentence fills a page—attention-getting but distractingly so. While it abounds with information, sadly, no sources are cited, undermining reliability. Additionally, there are no index and no recommended bibliography for further research, diminishing this effort’s value as a resource. Depressing and scary yet grimly entertaining. (Nonfiction/graphic-novel hybrid. 10 & up)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7611-5607-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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