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The Groundbreaking, Chance-Taking Life of…

The Groundbreaking, Chance-Taking Life of George Washington Carver and…

by Cheryl Harness

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I had mixed feelings about this book. The main purpose of the book is to inform readers about the life and accomplishments of George Washington Carver.

I think the illustrations in the book enhanced the story by providing the reader with knowledge they might not have had before. For example, on page 53 there is a cartoon illustration of grafting. The book explains that grafting is a way to reproduce seedless plants or to improve the quality of the existing plant. However, the illustration shows exactly what would be done to graft a plant and labels each part of the plant such as the heartwood, leaves, sapwood, cork and phloem. Under each label it explains the function of that part of the plant. This is a really nice touch because it helps readers who are more visual learners to understand the text and visualize what is taking place in the story.

I enjoyed that each page featured part of a timeline of key events in history, but it also can be a little confusing because the timeline is not solely based on George Washington Carver’s life. It includes other famous inventors and their key inventions which can confuse readers and overload them with too much information. I liked that the book explicitly stated definitions in the text in parenthesis, but I still feel like the words might be challenging for younger readers. For example, readers might struggle with words like “quanta” – particles of energy, smaller than atoms. Even though the book gave the definition of the word, I think younger readers might get bogged down with too much vocabulary.

Another aspect of the book that I didn’t like was that I felt like it tried to cover too wide of a variety of topics. Not only did it cover George Washington Carver’s life and his accomplishments, but it expanded to other famous inventors which can become a little confusing for readers. I liked that there was a chronology listed at the end of the book strictly for George Washington Carver’s life because it makes up for the overloading timeline on the bottom of the pages. Even though the chapter book is appropriate grade-level text for upper elementary students, I still feel like it might be too wordy and long for readers. If I were to look for a biography on George Washington Carver in the future I probably would not pick this book again. ( )
  ygurova | Feb 21, 2016 |
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A look at the life of America's Plant Doctor, who rose from slavery to international fame, details his childhood, his thirst for knowledge, and his revolutionary innovations that profoundly impacted American agriculture.

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