Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner

Calkins Creek. Nov. 2019. 48p. notes. photos. websites. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781629795584.
Gr 2-5–A relatively unknown entomologist comes out of oblivion in this engaging picture book biography. Born in 1867, Charles Henry Turner was a groundbreaking African American scientist and teacher. He was raised in a loving household surrounded by books. After attending college, he continued his study of insects. He discovered, for example, what he called “intelligent action,” where a spider would spin a web just right for its particular home. Harrington’s text is inviting, and Turner’s enthusiasm comes through clearly: “Questions that itched like mosquito bites, questions that tickled like spider webs.” The word indefatigable is used throughout. Taylor’s bright, cheerful, expertly rendered cartoon illustrations complement the text. Close-ups depict Turner studying ants or butterflies intensely. While there is some discussion of the prejudice Turner endured, the overall tone is upbeat.
VERDICT Harrington and Taylor have rescued a worthy scientist from obscurity. Recommended for all libraries serving this grade range.

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