Rachel Carson

and Her Book That Changed the World

Book Description

“Once you are aware of the won­der and beau­ty of earth,
 you will want to learn about it,” wrote Rachel Carson.

Deter­mined and curi­ous even as a child, Rachel Car­son­’s fas­ci­na­tion with the nat­ur­al world led her to study biol­o­gy, and pur­sue a career in sci­ence at a time when very few women worked in the field.

This lyri­cal, illus­trat­ed biog­ra­phy fol­lows Car­son­’s journey—from a girl explor­ing the woods, to a woman work­ing to help sup­port her fam­i­ly dur­ing the Great Depres­sion, to a jour­nal­ist and pio­neer­ing researcher, inves­ti­gat­ing and expos­ing the harm­ful effects of pes­ti­cide overuse.

Best known for writ­ing Silent Spring, Rachel Car­son was a major fig­ure in the ear­ly envi­ron­men­tal move­ment, and her work brought a greater under­stand­ing of the impact humans have on our plan­et. Rachel Car­son and Her Book That Changed the World offers a glimpse at the ear­ly life that shaped her inter­est in nature, and the way one per­son­’s deter­mi­na­tion can inspire oth­ers to fight for real change.

An author’s note delves into how Silent Spring helped shape the mod­ern envi­ron­men­tal move­ment and inspired a gen­er­a­tion of read­ers to get involved in conservation.

Detailed source notes and a list of rec­om­mend­ed read­ing are included.

Awards and Recognition

  • Amelia Bloomer Project List, 2013
  • Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Sci­ence Top 10 Sum­mer Book
  • Bank Street Chil­dren’s Book of the Year, 2012
  • Green Earth Book Award Hon­or Book, 2013
  • Illi­nois Reads List, 2014
  • Inter­na­tion­al Read­ing Asso­ci­a­tion Teach­ers’ Choice Book, 2013
  • Macy’s Mul­ti­cul­tur­al Col­lec­tion of Chil­dren’s Literature
  • Nation­al Sci­ence Teach­ers Asso­ci­a­tion Out­stand­ing Sci­ence Trade Book, 2013
  • River­by Award for Excep­tion­al Nature Books for Young Read­ers from the John Bur­roughs Asso­ci­a­tion, 2012


Teach­ers’ Activ­i­ty and Dis­cus­sion Guide for Rachel Car­son and Her Book that Saved the World

25 Chil­dren’s Books to Nour­ish Curios­i­ty,” Eva Per­roni, Food­Tank: The Think Tank for Food, undat­ed

Earth Month Book—Rachel Car­son,” Sue Heav­en­rich, Archimedes Note­book, 6 April 2012

10 Fave #Wom­enin­STEM Pic­ture Book Biogra­phies,” Melis­sa Stew­art, Cel­e­brate Sci­ence, 25 Sep­tem­ber 2020

Reviews and Comments

“…Rachel Car­son­’s sto­ry can­not be fold­ed eas­i­ly into 32 pages. … Her Silent Spring, which care­ful­ly doc­u­ment­ed the effects of insec­ti­cides such as DDT on bird and ani­mal life and ulti­mate­ly on peo­ple, launched a huge gov­ern­men­tal effort to elim­i­nate that threat. The sto­ry ends with her death, at age 56 in 1964.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Beingess­ner’s light-filled paint and ink illus­tra­tions have an under­stat­ed, 1950s-era grace, which is com­ple­ment­ed by Lawlor’s qui­et­ly con­tem­pla­tive prose. Car­son emerges as a proud, con­sci­en­tious woman who nev­er allowed the con­straints of her era to inter­fere with her con­vic­tions. An epi­logue elab­o­rates on the sig­nif­i­cance of Silent Spring. Ages 6–10.” (Pub­lish­ers’ Week­ly)

“[Lawlor] dis­cuss­es Car­son­’s ear­ly years, includ­ing her innate love of nature and her ear­ly desire to become a writer. She describes Car­son­’s strug­gles to sup­port her fre­quent­ly impov­er­ished fam­i­ly as well as her fight to carve a place for her­self at a time when women sci­en­tists were scoffed at. … this book is a wor­thy intro­duc­tion to a woman whose work still influ­ences envi­ron­men­tal deci­sions today.” (School Library Jour­nal)

“Lawlor inter­weaves the most salient facts of the nat­u­ral­ist’s life (1907–1964) with such illu­mi­nat­ing details as needy extend­ed fam­i­ly mem­bers camp­ing out­side the Car­sons’ over­flow­ing house; or the chief of the U.S. Bureau of Fish­eries, where she final­ly got a job (‘one of only two pro­fes­sion­al women’), turn­ing down a piece Car­son had writ­ten for radio but sug­gest­ing she send it to The Atlantic—a move that set off her lit­er­ary career. … this acces­si­ble account folds a com­mend­able amount of sig­nif­i­cant infor­ma­tion into pic­ture book for­mat.” (The Horn Book)

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World

writ­ten by Lau­rie Lawlor
illus­trat­ed by Lau­ra Beingess­ner
Hol­i­day House, 2012

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