NONFICTION

What Linnaeus Saw: A Scientist’s Quest To Name Every Living Thing

Norton. Oct. 2019. 256p. bibliog. chron. glossary. index. notes. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781324004684.
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Gr 7 Up–Many students can explain biological classification in its simplest terms. But how many know scientist Carl Linnaeus, the creator of that system? This biography presents the details of Linnaeus’s life in chronological order, weaving facts with the unique experiences that influenced his life choices and scientific work. Beil, a former news reporter and science writer, widens the scope of her text with fascinating details about Linnaeus’s travels as a young man, as well as the prevailing cultural and religious beliefs of his time, which had a significant impact on his views of the natural world and its living components. Researched information fills each chapter, as does educator-friendly content primed to spice up discussions about biological classification. Despite its readability, however, this work seems unlikely to be a popular choice among students looking for a quick read. There are an exceptional number of excellent historical illustrations included with the text, a detailed time line, and source material.
VERDICT Beil’s storytelling skill elevates the biographical information, mimicking the excitement and mystery of scientific discovery. A well-researched choice for YA biography collections about a significant scientific pioneer.

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