Synopses & Reviews
In this brilliant presentation of a revolutionary thinker's life, the picture book becomes an art form
As far as I can judge, I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of other men . . .
Charles Darwin was, above all else, an independent thinker who continues even now to influence the way we look at the natural world. His endless curiosity and passion for detail resulted in a wealth of notebooks, diaries, correspondence, and published writings that Peter Sís transforms into a visual treasure trove. A multilayered journey through Darwins world, The Tree of Life begins with his childhood and traces the arc of his life through university and career, following him around the globe on the voyage of the Beagle, and home to a quiet but momentous life devoted to science and family. Sís uses his own singular vision to create a gloriously detailed panorama of a geniuss trajectory through investigating and understanding the mysteries of nature. In pictures executed in fine pen and ink and lush watercolors - cameo portraits, illustrated pages of diary, cutaway views of the Beagle, as well as charts, maps, and a gatefold spread - Peter Sís has shaped a wondrous introduction to Charles Darwin. The Tree of Life is a 2003 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year and Notable Children's Book of the Year, and a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
"[A] fabulous, visually exciting introduction to the man, his ideas, and the science of the natural world." School Library Journal
"A sophisticated interpretation that will have rapt admirers, including many adults." Booklist
"[A] stunning picture book biography....Sweeping in scope, lavish in detail, this is a book to launch many a reader's personal voyage of discovery." Publishers Weekly
Tree of Life examines the life of this scientist.
About the Author
has written and illustrated many award-winning books for children, including Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei
and Tibet Through the Red Box
, both Caldecott Honor books. He lives in New York with his wife and two children.
Reading Group Guide
The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin
is a picture book biography of one of the greatest scientists, observers, and thinkers of all time.Peter Sís takes readers on an incredible voyage of discovery as they explore the life and times of Charles Darwin. This beautifully illustrated biography examines the life of Darwin from three distinct perspectives. Sís explores the public, the personal, and the secret (or inner)
life of this nineteenth-century naturalist. Scientists and explorers in elementary and middle grades will be able to examine Darwin from his youth as the son of a wealthy English physician, to his adventures aboard the H.M.S. Beagle as it traversed the globe on a five-year voyage, to his years of experimentation, reflection, and writing. Through this biography, students will make connections to the worlds of science, social studies, language arts, and art. The activities included in this guide can be integrated into many disciplines and many areas of exploration. Teachers can use The Tree of Life as a springboard into a discussion about the nature of science. The sometimes controversial nature of Darwins theory on how life on Earth has changed over time can be a difficult lesson to teach. The struggles that Darwin himself had with this complicated topic are examined by Peter Sís and can be the focus of rich lessons about how scientific discoveries change the way we look at the world and the way we look at ourselves.