Sunday 26 September 2021

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin, by Anita Croy (EK books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 97819258 20706

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This is yet one of six books in the series Scientists Who Changed the World. Darwin, who is famously known throughout the world was at one time said to be the ‘most dangerous man in England’. This is because his discoveries went against the teachings of the Church. However, Darwin’s theories of how animals evolve to survive, are now accepted by the scientific world, changing our understanding of the world around us forever.

The book begins with a biography of Darwin, then proceeds with a chapter on the background of science and religion at the time. It includes a double page spread on leading natural philosophers, including Erasmus Darwin, Darwin’s grandfather who believed that life started with tiny ocean creatures that had changed over millions of years into modern life forms. Charles spent five years travelling around the world in his ship, the Beagle, making maps of ocean waters around South America. The text tells us that he suffered from terrible seasickness for the entire voyage and was appalled by the conditions of slaves he saw in Brazil. It is facts and anecdotes such as this, which make reading this fascinating book more appealing.

The book is beautifully designed and laid out with headings, frequent breaks in text, sub-headings, photographs, drawings, and splashes of colour. The pages are of all different colours, including black pages with white type. The pages with the heading ‘Key Clues’ tell of Darwin’s arrival at the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. There are coloured photographs on this double page spread of iguanas (which Darwin called ‘disgusting, clumsy lizards’), the story of how Darwin collected specimens of plants, animals, rock and fossils, and his surprise that all the animals seemed tame. On the next double page spread is a timeline of the voyage of the Beagle.

A young reader could spend many hours reading this easy-to-access book, learning a great deal about Darwin and his world, and his theory of evolution. The book finishes with a glossary, bibliography of books and websites, and an index. Highly recommended.

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