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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BookPage Reviews 2008 February
Revisiting a trailblazer

Most children learn about George Washington Carver in school and are able to connect him with the words "peanut" and "sweet potato." Tonya Bolden explores Carver more seriously in George Washington Carver, a book to accompany a traveling exhibit on Carver from the Field Museum in Chicago. Filled with archival photographs, artifacts and Carver's own scientific drawings, this is a book to slowly savor. Maybe it's because Carver working in his lab reminds me so much of my own grandfather working in his pharmacy, but Carver has always been a hero to me. His dedication to the earth and his reverence for nature will surely resound with ecologically aware students today. I particularly enjoyed the tidbits that Bolden sprinkles into her narrativeCarver saving everything, even string; Carver knitting and doing embroidery; and, my favorite, a photo of Carver taking his early morning walk, specimen case in one hand, a branch in the other, and a flower tucked in his lapel. Reading about the research he completed with the most basic tools renews my admiration for him. Bolden's straight-shooting afterword addresses Carver's detractors (he did not publicly oppose segregation, which put him at odds with some in the Civil Rights movement) and brings him back into the fold of famous scientists. Now, I just have to hope that the traveling exhibit comes to my city (check fieldmuseum.org to see if it's coming to yours). Copyright 2008 BookPage 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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Library Media Connection Reviews 2008 August/September
A fresh biography from Tonya Bolden, this title retraces the turbulent life and celebrated accomplishments of the famed "Peanut Man" through chronological photographs, original works of art, and thought-provoking text. Bolden takes the reader back to George Washington Carver's birthplace and leads him through his life from enslavement as a child, on his quest for new knowledge and becoming a successful environmentalist, to being honored for his contributions in agriculture by way of a museum erected in his name. Her use of historical photographs, artifacts, and drawings depicting Carver's love of nature and his scientific explorations is reminiscent of walking through a museum with the book as the tour guide. Although suited for older readers, this selection would be a valuable addition to any biography collection. Recommended. Suzanne Buza-Snead, Librarian, Maverick Elementary, San Antonio, Texas ¬ 2008 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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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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