“A biography of scientist and inventor George Washington Carver that is too divided between his accomplishments and his interests.”
Barretta uses the novel—for a picture book—approach of a flashback to share this important history of American inventor and scientist George Washington Carver. Initially placing Carver in a meeting with members of the United States Congress, where Carver is first disparaged before he enchants the representatives for over an hour with his knowledge of peanuts, Barretta flashes back to Carver’s childhood and highlights his trying but determined path to his position as a preeminent American inventor and scientist, bookending the history with Carver’s careful attention to his own secret flower gardens. Though there are numerous praiseworthy moments throughout—like Barretta’s detailing Carver’s unmatched influence through his traveling Jesup Agricultural Wagon, by which he visited thousands of farmers and shared helpful advice for maximizing crops and caring for livestock—the story fails to share either sufficient details about Carver’s ingenious work with peanuts or his lifelong love of flowers. It does succeed, however, in conveying the remarkable character of Carver, who “remained a humble man, always ready to serve humanity,” even after becoming a man of fame and honor. Morrison’s oil illustrations are full, detailed, and beautiful, fitting of Carver’s creed, which concludes the story: “Regard Nature. Rever Nature. Respect Nature.” For readers whose interest is piqued to learn more about Carver, Barretta includes a detailed timeline of Carver’s life, a bibliography, and suggestions for additional reading.
The inspirational story of George Washington Carver and his childhood secret garden is brought to life in this picture book biography by the author-illustrator team behind Muhammad Ali: A Champion Is Born.
When George Washington Carver was just a young child, he had a secret: a garden of his own.
Here, he rolled dirt between his fingers to check if plants needed more rain or sun. He protected roots through harsh winters, so plants could be reborn in the spring. He trimmed flowers, spread soil, studied life cycles. And it was in this very place that George’s love of nature sprouted into something so much more—his future.
Gene Barretta’s moving words and Frank Morrison’s beautiful paintings tell the inspiring life and history of George Washington Carver, from a baby born into slavery to celebrated botanist, scientist, and inventor. His passion and determination are the seeds to this lasting story about triumph over hardship—a tale that begins in a secret garden.
Carver overcame many challenges and setbacks to pursue his goals and interests. Through his work as a scientist and inventor, he made many positive contributions and helped many people. What goals do you have? What challenges do you face to achieve them, and what can you learn from Carver’s example?
Carver is very generous with the knowledge and understanding he gains about plants and animals. He taught and shared what he knew with thousands of people and helped them. What do you know and understand that you can share with someone else to help them?
Gene Barretta is an award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books. Among his honors are the Carolyn W. Field Award and the Bank Street Cook Prize Honor. His books include Lincoln and Kennedy: A Pair to Compare, Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin, and Dear Deer: A Book of Homophones. Gene has contributed illustration and animation to Sesame Street and Between the Lions. He has also designed characters for the Jim Henson Company. He lives in Bryn Mawr, PA. You can visit him online at www.genebarretta.com.
Frank Morrison is the award-winning illustrator of many books for young readers, including Jazzy Miz Mozetta by Brenda C. Roberts, winner of the Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award for New Talent. He also illustrated Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown and Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson, both Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books. Before becoming a children’s book illustrator and fine artist, Morrison toured the globe as a hip-hop dancer. He lives in Georgia with his family. You can visit him online at www.morrisongraphics.com.
For Nanie & Grandad, and Grandmom & Grandpop. Strong roots in my garden. A special thank-you to Curtis Gregory, Ben Goldberg, and Ben Barretta.
To the genius in my house, my son, Nasir