Cover image for The groundbreaking, chance-taking life of George Washington Carver and science & invention in America
The groundbreaking, chance-taking life of George Washington Carver and science & invention in America

Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, c2008.
Physical Description:
143 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm.
Reading Level:
1090 L Lexile


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 921 CARVER 1 1
Book J 921 CARVER 1 1

On Order



The multitalented hand of Cheryl Harness creates another winning combination of history, biography, and illustration: the inspiring story of a man who rose from slavery to worldwide fame as America's Plant Doctor.

Follow the action as Confederate raiders kidnap young Carver--along with his mother and siblings--and sell them to Arkansas slaveholders. Here, whooping cough threatens George's life, yet the disease will be the key to his future. Unable to work in the fields, he spends his days studying plants. His desire for knowledge leads him to the rich farmlands of Iowa, where he becomes the first black student--and later the first black faculty member--at the state university. Carver pioneers hundreds of new uses for plants and revolutionizes American agriculture by teaching farmers the value of rotating cotton with nitrogen-rich crops. Cheryl Harness' lively narrative follows Carver's rise to international fame: our hero dines at the White House, works with Henry Ford, and testifies to Congress. The book's vivid illustrations are an invitation to step back in time and become an active participant in this compelling story.

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Author Notes

Cheryl Harness is the author and/or illustrator of some 35 children's books, including seven picture book biographies for National Geographic. She has a natural talent for making history fun for kids, injecting the "wow" factor into the lives of America's historical heroes and heroines. She has won multiple awards and now lives in her historic hometown of Independence, MO. Visit Cheryl Harness at her Web site:

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-Harness presents Carver as a man who, regardless of constant hardship and racial prejudice, persevered to become a beloved teacher and devoted scientist. From the beginning, she puts his life in historical context by looking at the effects of racism on his career choices and by talking about the achievements and beliefs of his contemporaries, many of whom he knew. The author raises challenging questions throughout, especially when she discusses debates over whether Carver was truly a great scientist or more a public thinker who promoted science to help better understand the world. The lively prose style conveys his sense of passion and adventure about the man and his intellectual pursuits, and the simple black-and-white drawings add a further sense of drama. This is not just a good choice for biography assignments; it's also a strong recommendation for a nonfiction read-aloud and as a way to interest fiction readers in biography.-Michael Santangelo, Brooklyn Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

Animated writing and intricate black-and-white illustrations drive this biography of Carver, the son of slaves whose curiosity and altruism led him to become a scientist, researcher, and educator in the field of agriculture. An extensive timeline of world events runs along the bottom of the pages. The book is jam-packed with information in a way that can be overwhelming. Reading list. Bib., ind. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Seasoned author Harness places  the sage of Tuskegee  firmly in context in this unusually lively portrait, which delivers biographical details amid flurries of period references to politics, scientific discoveries, births, deaths, and cultural trends. Appealing features of previous books in the Cheryl Harness History series recur here: there's an illustrated time line on every spread, multimedia resource lists, and plenty of black-and-white drawings. However, the book's quotations are unsourced. Suggest this as a companion to Tonya Bolden's George Washington Carver (2008), which features archival illustrations that will pair nicely with Harness' more interpretive drawings.--Peters, John Copyright 2008 Booklist