Friday, March 21, 2008

The Voyage of the Beetle

I am always on the lookout for good science books to read aloud, ideally to do along with whatever we are studying at the time. On Darwin's birthday, back in February, Becky at Farm School had an extensive list of books about Darwin. I very promptly ordered this one.

The Voyage of the Beetle: A Journey around the World with Charles Darwin and the Search for the Solution to the Mystery of Mysteries as Narrated by Rosie an Articulate Beetle by Anne H. Weaver, illustrated by George Lawrence.

Pheww, what a title. Reminds me of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life by Charles Darwin. And, of course, the reminder is intended.

Noach and I have been enjoying this book about Darwin. The beetle device reminds me of the books by Robert Lawson, using Ben Franklin's mouse or Paul Revere's horse as narrator. The young Darwin was a collector of beetles so a rose chafer beetle is a good voice for this book.

It is such a pretty book, from the lovely illustrations to the choice of cream-colored paper which give it an aged look, like a diary from the 19th century.

And the author is true to the history of Darwin's thinking. There was no "Eureka!" moment when evolution and natural selection came to him in a sudden insight. Rather he collected data and pondered its meaning for some time before coming to his conclusions. And, of course, he waited even longer before publishing them.

Some comical stories from his life engage the younger reader. Once while collecting beetles, Darwin put one in his mouth in order to free his hands to grab yet another specimen. As a defense tactic, the beetle in his mouth squirted foul juice. Sounds disgusting. Just what a boy likes to hear.

Finally, there are timelines of the Beagle's voyage and Darwin's life, a glossary and bibliography. And I always appreciate a list of further reading on the subjects in the book and this is amply provided.

I loved this book. It is a treasure, good science, good history and so pretty. PRM

1 comment:

Becky said...

Oh, another glowing review -- I'm so pleased! I think I'm just going to buy it because the local libraries have yet to even think about ordering it. Oy.

I'll post a link to your review as soon as I'm up and about a bit more (flu...).