'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Review: One Beetle Too Many

Although I've always adored history, I've developed quite the addiction to both history books and historical fiction (or 'faction') of late.

Whether it be swamping great novels thick with fairytales and magic, junior fiction tales of eye-popping drama or picture books complete with gorgeously-rendered art, I'm quite often breathless at the appearance of a newbie factional tale.

Not that One Beetle Too Many is a newbie. The hardcover (with dust jacket) version was published in 2009, yet it's one of those books that just happened to 'slip beneath my radar'. It was therefore a fortuitous moment when I discovered this gorgeous book on the shelves of the National Library bookshop recently.

Heavy on text, but appropriately so, this is the fascinating story of great naturalist Charles Darwin (1809 - 1882) - the father of Evolutionary thought. His complex life is beautifully rendered in this book, making it a biography that is accessible to the very young and curious.

From his early life as a young lad who was more interested in collecting beetles and blowing up garden sheds than he was about schoolwork, through his early working life as a 22-year-old embarking on a world adventure aboard the Beagle, this is a story of a man impassioned to find answers about life and humankind.

Matthew Trueman's amazing illustrations are a (most appropriate) combination of divine artwork and collage effect, using leaves, flowers and herbs - making this a book as much about visuals as is it about the life of an extraordinary man.

Title: One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Illustrator: Matthew Trueman
Publisher: Candlewick Press, $16.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1 March 2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN:  9780763658212
For ages: 8+
Type: High Text Picture Book, History Book