Reviews for George Washington Carver


Booklist Reviews 2008 February #1
*Starred Review* In the latest standout biography by Coretta Scott King Honor author Bolden, the writer's expressive powers marry to a truly fascinating subject, the slave-born black scientist whose affectionate nicknames included "the Wizard of the Goober and the Yam." Bolden provides the requisite biographical details, including Carver's early, tragic separation from his mother, but also traces themes of his career, drawing connections between his kind masters' waste-not values and his future devotion to finding new uses for farm by-products. Offering sourced quotations throughout, Bolden covers subtleties that simpler treatments tend to bypass, such as Carver's trepidation about leaving the mostly white Midwest to join Alabama's Tuskegee Institute. Directly and indirectly, Bolden also addresses criticisms of Carver for his lack of political activism: the mild-mannered researcher, Bolden writes, "was his own unique self with much to offer from his insights . . . into nature's ways and gifts." Photos and reproductions, many of Carver's own paintings, are exceptional, and their arrangement in the style of an old-fashioned album lends the book a suitable gravitas. A selected bibliography closes this absorbing look at a man whose celebration in a traveling exhibition, launching this month at Chicago's Field Museum (a partner in this book's publication), will draw extra attention to both the Peanut Man and this fine portrait. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2007 December #2
Bolden follows up MLK: Journey of a King (2007) with this shorter but equally lucid profile of the second-most-well-known African-American. Outfitted with a great array of sharply reproduced contemporary photos and prints (many in color), plus a generous admixture of Carver's own paintings and botanical illustrations, the narrative takes him from birth (in slavery) to honor-laden old age and death. It focuses particularly on his relentless pursuit of an education, his sense of purpose, his wide range of talents and his ever-more-relevant conviction that all of our basic physical needs can be served by renewable natural resources. Cogently argued, enlivened with unusual details--such as Carver's ambiguous reference to otherwise unknown "sisters," or the fact that he was not the inventor of peanut butter--and handsomely packaged, this floats easily atop the ongoing flood of Carver biographies for young readers. Published in conjunction with an exhibition at Chicago's Field Museum. (source list) (Biography. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2008 April

Gr 4-7-- Carver was born into slavery and raised by German-American farmers in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, and his humble beginnings could not even hint at the innovative scientist and the passionate educator he would become. Bolden traces the course of his life and reveals how his love of nature, keen intellect, and ingenuity as a problem-solver earned him the name "the Wizard of Tuskegee." His famous research with peanuts represents only a portion of his work; his studies led to the development of hundreds of unexpected products from everyday plants. As a lifelong conservationist, he also pioneered research into the use of vegetables to create fuel. In this richly illustrated picture book, Bolden uses extraordinary historical photos and prints, as well as many reproductions of Carver's own sketches and botanical drawings, to create a well-planned biography that invites readers to peruse. The engaging narrative includes many of Carver's own quotes and sayings. His message, "Regard nature. Revere nature. Respect nature," rings with a truth that is still relevant today. Published in association with Chicago's Field Museum as part of an exhibition, this book includes a comprehensive list of notes and sources but lacks an index or table of contents. It is, however, a wonderful resource that will appeal to young researchers and should be a welcome addition to all biography shelves.--Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY

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