The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just

illus. by Luisa Uribe. 40p. bibliog. chron. notes. photos. Lerner. Nov. 2018. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781512483758.
OrangeReviewStarGr 1–4—Set amidst the evocative illustrations of Uribe is the life of Ernest Everett Just, a teacher, scientist, and poet famous for his foundational contributions to cell biology. Born in 1883 in Charleston, SC, Just was the son of a school teacher who encouraged his curiosity from a young age. Throughout, the discoveries Just makes—as a child and as an adult—spur his curiosity rather than sating it. It drives him to Dartmouth (during which time he also financially supported his siblings in the wake of his mother's death); to a faculty position at Howard in the biology department; to the Marine Biological Laboratory every summer for further research; and finally to Europe, where he received more respect as a scientist and thinker than he ever had in the United States because of racism. The text does not shy away from the discrimination Just and his family experienced as black Americans, and the ways it hindered him and his scholarly work throughout his life. Winner of the first NAACP Spingarn Medal, Just's accomplishments are not limited to the title of scientist: he was first a professor at Howard in the English department before becoming head of the Biology department, he wrote poetry, and he cared deeply about the experiences of his students.
VERDICT A must-purchase picture book biography of a figure sure to inspire awe and admiration among readers.

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