Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In the Garden with Dr. Carver

In the Garden with Dr. Carver
written by Susan Grigsby; illustrated by Nicole Tadgell
(Albert Whitman) 2010
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

When Sally walks out of church one Sunday, she sees a wagon pulled by a mule. Dr. George Washington Carver from Tuskegee has brought his movable school to her town! He dispenses advice to the local citizens on how to improve soil conditions. Dr. Carver also teaches about the different products he creates from plants in his laboratory. For Sally, the best part of this famous scientist's visit is the time he spends working with the children. He helps them start a garden and teaches them to think like scientists.

When I saw the title of this historical fiction book, I was thinking about how it might be a great way to introduce children to the life of Dr. Carver and it certainly accomplishes that goal. What I didn't count on before reading the book was how rich this story would be in dispensing information about the scientific process and how to think like a scientist. In the narrative, Dr. Carver encourages Sally and the other students to frequently observe nature and be aware of the relationships connecting every living thing. He tells the children to listen to the plants, and they'll tell you what they need. These are exactly the skills we want to impart to our young scientists today. Warm watercolor illustrations of different plant and animal species help strengthen this message throughout the book. Reading In the Garden with Dr. Carver would be an excellent way to start a science unit on plants.

Other reviews of In the Garden with Dr. Carver:
Through the Looking Glass

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