Darwin and Evolution

Coiniciding with the the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth (February 12, 1809) was a deluge of books about one of history’s greatest and most influential scientists. There is no shortage of fine books addressing the broader subject of evolution, too. Here are a few favorites :

  1. Charles & EmmaHeiligman, Deborah. Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith.
  2. Henry Holt, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8050-8721-5 $18.95
  3. This is the best book published in celebration of the Darwin bicentennial. This rich, insightful portrait of Charles and Emma Darwins’ marriage explores a dimension of the naturalist’s life that has heretofore been largely ignored. A loving and devoted couple, Emma was devoutly religious while Charles’s agnosticism increased as he delved deeper into his studies of natural history. They did not let this difference come between them. While unable to agree with Charles’s theory that essentially eliminated God from the process of creation, Emma remained open-minded and supportive, even reading drafts of The Origin of Species and suggesting improvements. Using excerpts from correspondence, diaries, and journals, Heiligman portrays a relationship grounded in mutual respect.
  1. DarwinMcGinty, Alice B. Darwin, with Glimpses into His Private Journal & Letters. Illus. Mary Azarian. Houghton Mifflin, 2009. 978-0-618-99531-8 $18.00
  2. For younger readers, this picture book biography is an outstanding choice. McGinty portrays Darwin as a humble, intellectually passionate, and relentlessly curious individual. Quotes from Darwin’s journals and letters appear as pictures of cursive lines on parchment-colored sheets, setting them apart from the narrative text as well as from Azarian’s handsome woodcut illustrations.


  1. Tree of Life Sis, Peter. Charles Darwin: The Tree of Life. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003. 978-0-374-45628-3 $18.00
  2. This is an earlier publication on Darwin but this stunning picture book biography is not to be missed. Sis offers a beautifully conceived and rendered homage to the life and ideas of Darwin. Stunning, exquisite, and totally absorbing.


  1. Clapurnia TateKelly, Jacqueline. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Henry Holt, 2009. 978-0-8050-8841-0 $16.99
  2. In 1899 Central Texas, eleven-year-old Callie Vee Tate grows closer to her distant, eccentric grandfather when she develops a passionate interest in Charles Darwin, evolution, and the natural world. Kelly’s debut novel starts off a bit slow but quickly becomes engrossing. A wonderful coming-of-age, family story with lovely period details and beautifully realized characters.


  1. Lucy Long AgoThimmesh, Catherine. Lucy Long Ago: Uncovering the Mystery of Where We Come From. Houghton Mifflin, 2009. 978-0-547-05199-4 $18.00
  2. This fascinating, visually stunning book tells the story of how the discovery of the bones of the hominid christened Lucy prompted to scientists to question all of their assumptions about human evolution.  
Published in: on June 8, 2009 at 8:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

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