Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species

Crown. Oct. 2019. 64p. adapted by Sabina Radeva. illus. by Sabina Radeva. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781984894915.
PreS-Gr 3–Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. This copiously illustrated adaptation uses accessible language to explain selected concepts from Darwin’s work. Radeva successfully emphasizes Darwin’s curiosity and observations of nature, changing the order of Darwin’s original volume to add clarity. Examples of topics covered from the original work include natural selection, species struggle for existence, nature’s effects on variations in species, and the influence of domestication on species. Direct quotes from Darwin’s book are set apart from the main text with a different font. Minimal details document Darwin’s personal life and his nearly five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle. Those gaps are covered in Peter Sís’s The Tree of Life and Rosalyn Schanzer’s What Darwin Saw: The Journey That Changed the World, both of which are listed as recommended reading. Another useful appendix identifies corrections to particular Darwinian ideas that have become outdated. The stylish artwork in muted greens, yellows, and browns with accents of red, orange, and black are filled with a range of vegetation and animals. The amount of page space devoted to the artwork varies, and the size/scale of the images change.
VERDICT This informational picture book may fill the needs of upper primary teachers seeking supplementary materials to introduce Darwin’s theories. Could also appeal to children with an interest in nature and librarians looking for fresh, simpler titles pertaining to Darwin’s ideas.

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