cover image RACHEL: The Story of Rachel Carson

RACHEL: The Story of Rachel Carson

Amy Ehrlich, , illus. by Wendell Minor. . Harcourt/Silver Whistle, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-216227-6

Ehrlich's (Leo, Zack, and Emmie) anecdotal biography of nature writer and environmentalist Carson focuses on incidents that influenced Carson's thinking and career aspirations. As a child, she finds a fossil of a sea creature which, given her Pennsylvania home's inland location, was an exciting discovery that left "her thoughts turning like waves." In other episodes, the "solitary and odd and bright" girl has an article accepted by a magazine that publishes stories by children; and, as an aspiring writer in college, she changes her major to biology after seeing "the complexity of the universe" in a one-celled organism she views under a microscope. Supporting her parents and siblings with an editing job, Carson tries her hand at nature writing, hoping it will "add space and distance to her own cramped life." Ehrlich effectively evokes Carson's passion for and curiosity about nature, which she studied and documented during summers on the Maine coast, and explains the events leading up to Carson's seminal, controversial book Silent Spring, a fervent indictment of the use of pesticides. Organized into stand-alone episodes, the narrative does not always flow easily from one chapter to the next. Yet Minor's (A Lucky Thing) impressively realistic watercolor and gouache paintings lend a pleasing cohesiveness to the volume. His sun- and moonlit scenarios, particularly two wordless spreads, fittingly display the striking beauty of the landscapes and seascapes that so inspired this courageous crusader. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)