rachel carson and her book

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor, illustrated by Laura Beingessner

This is a biographical picture book about the environmentalist Rachel Carson.  The book covers her childhood, which she spent outside in her family’s woods, orchards and fields.  Her mother loved nature and passed her passion on to her daughter.  Though times were tough and her father struggled to make enough money to support the family, Rachel was able to attend Pennsylvania College for Women in Pittsburgh.  It was during this time that she started to be concerned about the environment. Rachel decided to become a biologist and received her Master’s Degree, becoming one of the few female biologists.  After some time jobless due to the Great Depression, her two skills of science and writing came together in a job for the Bureau of Fisheries writing radio scripts about sea life.  After World War II, Rachel became alarmed at the chemicals being sprayed everywhere.  Though she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she continued work on Silent Spring which caused such a reaction that new laws were created to protect the environment.  This book tells the story of a woman who was smart, scientifically gifted, and passionate about the natural world she loved so much. 

Lawlor pays real homage to Rachel Carson here.  It is the story of her entire life, from the early days of connecting with nature through her years of study to the final, vital book she wrote.  Hers is an inspirational story of what can be done by someone who is smart and passionate about a subject.  It is also a great story about a woman who defied the conventions and followed her dreams.  Lawlor makes Carson both intensely human but also heroic.

The illustrations are done in a simple style with ink and watercolor.  They celebrate the natural world around Carson with plenty of the greens of the woods and the blues of the waters.  And in each, Carson is observing and making notes.  It’s a glimpse of a woman who is a scientist first and foremost.

This is a celebration of a groundbreaking book by a groundbreaking woman.  Appropriate for ages 5-8. 

Reviewed from library copy.