Review: Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor

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.

Review: Jimmy the Greatest by Jairo Buitrago

jimmy the greatest

Jimmy the Greatest by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng

Jimmy lives in a small village in Latin America where there is nothing but a small church and a little gym.  Thanks to that little gym, Jimmy and the other children in town spend their time learning to box.  Since Jimmy didn’t have much else to do, he started to train.  He wanted to become a famous boxer and get his mother the icebox she needed.  It all changed though when his trainer, Don Apolinar, gave Jimmy a box of clippings and books about Mohammad Ali.  Jimmy started reading all about Ali, started wearing his glasses, and even shadowboxed while continuing to read.  Jimmy learned about respect and dignity from Ali, creating his own sayings from Ali quotes.  He grew into a great boxer.  When Don Apolinar left the village for a larger city, Jimmy stayed behind and kept up the gym and opened a library.

This picture book took my breath away with its ending.  As Don Apolinar headed to the bus to leave town, I assumed that Jimmy was joining him or following close behind.  Instead, Jimmy stays where he is and continues to pass on the training he received and share his inspiration and learning with others.  It is a tribute to those who stay in their home communities and make a difference.  Jimmy learned a lot, let his dreams flow, and still stayed, not because he felt trapped or stuck, but because he wanted to. 

Yockteng’s illustrations are filled with warm, yellow light.  They display the barren environment around the village, the lack of things to do, and yet they also show a community of bright-colored shacks and friendly people.  There is a beauty to the barren landscape and certainly a beauty to the people themselves.

Highly recommended, this book pays homage to the local hero, the person who stays and makes a difference.  It’s one character that is often missing in children’s picture books and it’s great to see such a wonderful tribute.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

This Week’s Tweets and Pins

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter and Pinterest accounts that you might find interesting:

You can also check out the tweets and pins I did this week about libraries, e-books, and management on my other blog, Sites & Soundbytes.

11 Authors Who Hated the Movie Versions of Their Books – Mental Floss

Divergent movie in pre-production #yalit

Flavorwire » 10 Important Life Lessons We Learned from Children’s Books #kidlit

Know Your Vampire Hunter

Raschka and Gantos Deliver Moving Caldecott, Newbery Speeches| ALA Annual 2012 #kidlit #libraries

Summer Reading Resources A to Z « Imagination Soup | Fun Learning and Play Activities for Kids #reading#kidlit

A Very Middle Grade Summer: 10 Titles Even Adults Will Love! | BlogHer #kidlit

Your first library card: a defining moment for a reader #libraries