Darwin & Hooker

Darwin & Hooker
Alexandra Stewart, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

This biography of two friends who became two of the most eminent naturalists of the 19th century is a fascinating exploration of their discoveries and of the birth of science as we know it.
Most people know something about Charles Darwin, his theory of evolution and his seminal work On the Origin of Species but I suspect far fewer know more than the name Joseph Hooker. This book published jointly with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, tells the story of Charles and Joseph (who was once Kew’s Director), linking Darwin with Kew.

Divided into four parts, the book takes us on a journey through the early lives of Charles and Joseph, their adventures on their respective voyages, the start and progression of their close friendship, and the amazing legacies they left behind. Little did either of them know that when an erstwhile shipmate of Charles introduced him to his companion in London one day as the latter was preparing to depart for Antarctica, this meeting would gradually evolve into one of the most important ever friendships for science.

It’s incredible to read that very soon after Joseph’s return from his voyage of what turned out to be four years, he received his first letter from Charles – a congratulatory one but in it he also asked the botanist to examine his Galapagos plants and over the next forty years 1,400 letters went backwards and forwards between the two.

A fascinating, compelling read that shows young readers the importance of curiosity, determination and teamwork in scientific endeavour. Joe Todd-Stanton’s enticing illustrations break up and illuminate the text, helping to make it accessible to older primary school readers.

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