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Darwin: A Graphic Biographyby Eugene Byrne
Synopses & Reviews
Darwin: A Graphic Biography is an inspiring expedition into the physical and intellectual adventures of Charles Darwin. Presenting Darwin's life in a smart and entertaining graphic novel, Darwin: A Graphic Biography attempts to not only educate the reader about Darwin but also the scientific world of the 1800s. The graphic medium is ideal for recreating a very specific time frame, succeeding in placing the reader right next to a young Darwin on a "beetling" expedition. With specimens in both hands, and anxious to get another, Darwin ends up stuffing the third beetle into his mouth. Darwin's life presented in this form is an inspirational tale for kids of all ages. They'll be sure to identify with a curious young Darwin finding his way on youthful adventures in the fields near his house. The ups, downs, and near-misses of Darwin's youth are portrayed honestly and without foreshadowing of his later fame. This is a key point for younger readers: that Darwin wasn't somehow predestined to greatness. He was curious, patient, and meticulous. He persevered--a great lesson about what science is all about.
"Early in this bio, a college-age Darwin is out collecting beetles when he spies a rare bombardier beetle. With beetles already in both hands, he shoves the new specimen into his mouth, only to have it release a 'hot, stinking mixture' of chemicals, causing him to lose all three insects. This is a typical anecdote in the account, which covers Darwin's entire life, from his upbringing and studies to his fateful voyage aboard the Beagle and publication of On the Origin of Species. Using the framing device of a group of wisecracking monkeys recording a nature special, Byrne and Gurr present Darwin as a misfit who never quite found a place in regular society. Gurr's b&w art is skillfully executed, but it does little to further the narrative on its own, and the book falls into a pattern of dense text explanations with drawings that fill in examples. While the book may be too text-heavy for a mass appeal, its drawbacks are outweighed by its sense of humor and its novel approach to telling the life story of one of history's most famous and misunderstood scientists. Ages 10 — 15. (Feb.) Ã¢Â–" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
EUGENE BYRNE is a freelance journalist whose work focuses on history and has been published in many periodicals, including BBC History. Darwin: A Graphic Biography is the third historical graphic novel on which Byrne and illustrator Simon Gurr have collaborated.
SIMON GURR is a cartoonist and illustrator who has been producing web and print comics with a focus on educational illustration for more than twenty years.
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