The bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth on February 12, 2009 (yes, the same day as Lincoln's) has not escaped publishers.
One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin
, illus. by Matthew Trueman. Candlewick
, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-1436-2
Distilling tough concepts into light, conversational prose, Lasky (John Muir
) gives middle-graders a just-right introduction to Charles Darwin. In colorful, cut-to-the-chase language ( “He found anatomy class disgusting, and he once rushed out of an operating room, unable to stand the sight of blood”), she highlights Darwin's insatiable curiosity, his failures at school and his voyage aboard the Beagle
. The author invites readers to follow Darwin's reasoning and the questions that led up to his theory of evolution. Taking advantage of the large trim size, Trueman (Noah's Mittens
) up-ends perspective with multilayered mixed-media illustrations; mostly paint, these also incorporate bits of flowers and weeds as well as string, paper and fabric. Like the text, they aim for a homely, friendly style, as when young Darwin and his brother are shown gleefully exploding things in their homemade lab. Highly accessible. Ages 7–12. (Jan.)