________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 7. . . .October 19, 2012


Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World.

Laurie Lawlor. Illustrated by Laura Beingessner.
New York, NY: Holiday House (Distributed in Canada by Thomas Allen & Son), 2012.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-0-8234-2370-5.

Subject Headings:
Carson, Rachel, 1907-1964-Juvenile literature.
Biologists-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Environmentalists-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Carson, Rachel, 1907-1964-Silent Spring.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Alicia Cheng.

***½ /4



As a biologist for fifteen years,
she went places where few women ventured.
She did work performed by few women:
counting deep-sea fish in foggy, dangerous currents south of Nova Scotia;
observing reef animals in a special suit
with an eighty-four-pound diving helmet off the coast of Florida;
tracking alligators atop a rumbling "glades buggy"
in the swampy Florida Everglades.


Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World is about Rachel Carson's life journey as a marine biologist and an environmentalist. Rachel Carson was born on the outskirts of Springdale, PA, in 1907. Living on 65 acres of woods, orchards, and fields, she developed a love for nature at an early age. However, her dream was not to be a biologist, but to be a writer. A life-changing moment came when she attended a biology class in college, and she decided to pursue a career as a biologist even though it was a time where few women succeeded in society. Her determination and hard work paid off when John Hopkins University offered her a full scholarship. However, despite graduating with a master's degree and achieving high results on the government scientist exam, Rachel could not find work during The Great Depression, and she still needed to support her family after her father died. Rachel did not give up and finally became a biologist at the Bureau of Fisheries, one of two professional females on the staff team. She also continued her childhood dream of becoming a writer and began to write about marine life, later quitting her job to write full-time. Rachel continued to write even in the later years where she was ill because "I could never again listen happily to a thrush song," she explained, "if I had not done all I could."

internal art     While this biography is based on real events from Rachel Carson's lifetime, the facts are presented as a story. Although language specific to Rachel Carson's profession is used, the language is not so difficult that children will stumble and be unable to continue their reading. Together with the pastel illustrations, these characteristics create a visual appeal for children. Rachel Carson's story is encouraging, and many readers will be inspired to follow their dreams and to reach their goals. Carson's life portrays a young woman who refused to give up despite the circumstances during The Great Depression. Older readers will also be motivated by her commitment to her family and her work, as well as her perseverance and dedication through all her responsibilities while living in a time of great unemployment.

      The epilogue tells what happens after Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, was published and discusses the environmental impact it created. The bibliography and further reading materials about Rachel Carson will be helpful for readers who are interested in learning more about Rachel Carson and the role she played to help change the environment. Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World is also a useful resource for students beginning their research in this subject area. I would highly recommend this book to elementary school children and teachers for school projects.

Highly Recommended.

Alicia Cheng is a Children's Librarian at the Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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