The True Adventures of Charley Darwin

By: Carolyn Meyer

Young Charles Darwin's interest in natural history dismayed his father and many of his teachers-they wished Charles would study instead of wandering about in nature or playing with chemistry sets. But Charles's obsession paid off : at age twenty-two, he was awarded the post of naturalist on a surveying ship about to make a trip around the world. After spending several years investigating exotic places, plants, and animals, Charles returned to England to compile his notes about what he experienced and observed. He also found a new passion-for Emma Wedgwood, his future wife. Map. Afterword. Bibliography.

ISBN: 9780152061944

JLG Release: Mar 2009


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) , Childhood , Boarding schools , Truancy , Pranks , Specimen collection , Doctors , Hazing , Family , Christmas , Robinson Crusoe , Chemistry , Laboratories , Shooting , Boating , Scientific observation , Careers , Medicine , Taxidermy , Evolution , Scientific rivalry , The clergy , Courtship , Titian's Venus , Geology , Faith , HMS Beagle , Sea voyages , Seasickness , Crossing the equator , "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner ," Romantic disappointment , Slavery , Fossils , Tierra del Fuego , Missionaries , Death , Letters , Illness , Stress , The Galapagos Islands , Homesickness , Fame , Returning home , Changes , Feminists , Scientific theories , Marriage , Setting up a household , Darwin's writings

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Awards & Honors

NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2010, Biography

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal

Horn Book

Meyer's fictionalized biography provides a first-person account of Charley's schooling, family life, romantic disappointments, and adventures on the HMS Beagle. Meyer admirably refuses to idealize Darwin, but his struggles with church doctrine and antipathy toward slavery sit oddly with his stereotypical observations of thieving and naked na Meyer's fictionalized biography provides a first-person account of Charley's schooling, family life, romantic disappointments, and adventures on the HMS Beagle. Meyer admirably refuses to idealize Darwin, but his struggles with church doctrine and antipathy toward slavery sit oddly with his stereotypical observations of thieving and naked natives. An author's note parsing fact from authorial liberty would have been useful. Bib.

Junior Library Guild

As Charles “Charley” Darwin narrates this fictionalized autobiography about his years from boyhood to marriage, readers not only learn the events of his life, but also gain insight into thoughts and concerns he may have had. For instance, when his sister Caroline says it’s cruel to kill an animal for a collection, nine-year-old Charley thinks As Charles “Charley” Darwin narrates this fictionalized autobiography about his years from boyhood to marriage, readers not only learn the events of his life, but also gain insight into thoughts and concerns he may have had. For instance, when his sister Caroline says it’s cruel to kill an animal for a collection, nine-year-old Charley thinks, “This made me feel guilty but did not stop me from my sins such as netting butterflies and mercilessly pinning them in flat boxes. . . .” When he’s older and reads his grandfather’s theories on evolution, Darwin notes, “I was fascinated by this idea of a change in nature, but the more I read, the more I felt in my grandfather’s writing the absence of a Creator. I couldn’t imagine a godless universe, but it seemed he could and did. Grandfather sounded like an atheist. To a believer like me, that was troubling.”

Darwin’s famed travels and research are absorbing. Yet Carolyn Meyers makes the lesser-known aspects of his biography—his close relationships with his uncle Jos and his older brother, Erasmus; his heartbreak when he learns that a girlfriend has married someone else—as compelling as his overseas adventures.

With a believable voice and wonderful period details, Meyers draws a complex portrait of the celebrated naturalist, complete with his doubts, fears, joy, and zeal. After reading Darwin’s captivating story, readers may observe their surroundings with a little more wonder and awe.

Book Details

ISBN

9780152061944

First Release

March 2009

Genre

Fictionalized autobiography.

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

5 1/2" x 8 1/4"

Page Count

272

Accelerated Reader

Level 7.5; Points: 14;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 8.7; Points: 19;

Lexile

Level 1060L

Format

Print Book

Edition

-

Publisher

Houghton Mifflin

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), Childhood, Boarding schools, Truancy, Pranks, Specimen collection, Doctors, Hazing, Family, Christmas, Robinson Crusoe, Chemistry, Laboratories, Shooting, Boating, Scientific observation, Careers, Medicine, Taxidermy, Evolution, Scientific rivalry, The clergy, Courtship, Titian's Venus, Geology, Faith, HMS Beagle, Sea voyages, Seasickness, Crossing the equator, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," Romantic disappointment, Slavery, Fossils, Tierra del Fuego, Missionaries, Death, Letters, Illness, Stress, The Galapagos Islands, Homesickness, Fame, Returning home, Changes, Feminists, Scientific theories, Marriage, Setting up a household, Darwin's writings,

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