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The true adventures of Charley Darwin
Book
2009
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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

Even Charles Darwin suffered bullies and stammered when talking to girls, and these are exactly the details that will make Meyer's account of the famous naturalist's formative years so appealing. There are also challenges: some readers will be tested by the numbing accounts of the finery of nineteenth-century England, and others will find the historic voyage of the HMS Beagle that occupies the book's latter half to be meandering. But patient readers and fans of Jane Austen-style prose will be rewarded with an utterly authentic chronicle of thwarted romance and grueling exploration. The motherless Darwin is nine when the book begins and nearly 30 when it ends, and younger readers will identify with the intelligent but restless boy's unwillingness to follow the staid career paths endorsed by his family and friends. Those already interested in Darwinism will find his early inklings of natural selection and doubts about religion fascinating; there are plenty of vivid historical details that will keep most other readers entertained as well.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2009 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

Fictionalized autobiography must walk a narrow line between truth and story. Where facts are unavailable or intentionally omitted, the fictionalized version needs to bring narrative flow, pacing and character building to fill the gap. This well-meaning tale of Charles Darwin's youth fails at the task of replacing veracity with an entertaining chronicle. Charley's story begins in earnest when the boy is eight years old and is shipped off to school for the first time. The first-person account follows Charley through his lackluster schooldays, his indifferent training as a classicist and his failure as a medical student, culminating in the epic journey of the Beagle, which introduced the young naturalist to the Galpagos finches around which he would base the theory of natural selection. Charley's account is scattered, with events tied together absent rhyme or reason. Lacking scientific details which could interest budding naturalists, character development as spice for those interested in Darwin's romances or scientific epiphanies for young historians, Charley's "memoir" will please few. (Historical fiction. 11-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
The fascinating journey of a famous naturalist<br> <br> Young Charley Darwin hated school--he much preferred to be outside studying birds' eggs, feathers, and insects. And so, at the age of twenty-one, he boarded a ship called HMS Beagle and spent five thrilling but dangerous years sailing around the world, studying plant and animal life that was beyond anything he could have imagined.<br> Here, historical novelist Carolyn Meyer tells the story of his unconventional adventures. It's the story of a restless childhood, unrequited teenage love, and a passion for studying nature that was so great, Darwin would sacrifice everything to pursue it.
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