What Darwin Saw
What Darwin Saw
The Journey That Changed The World

Publisher: National Geographic: Ages 8-Adult   Buy It!
ISBN: 978-1-4263-0396-8
Genre: Nonfiction/Biography/Science/History/Picture Book

About the Book

When Charles Darwin was 22 years old, he was offered the chance of a lifetime; to join the adventurous crew of the Beagle, a sailing ship about to begin a 5 year journey round the world.  He jumped at the chance!

Sail along with Darwin in this deliciously illustrated graphic novel filled with quotes from his own Beagle Diary, letters, and books. As the ship's naturalist, Darwin will discover gigantic fossils and exotic new animals of every description. He will watch volcanoes explode and earthquakes destroy entire towns. He'll explore jungles dripping with orchids, climb the highest mountain peaks, and visit tropical islands surrounded by living coral reefs. And he will meet people who live differently from anything he could have ever imagined.

And as he travels, Darwin will begin to unravel a mystery so enormous that it will change the way we look at our world forever! What is this mystery? And how will his solution secure his reputation as one of the greatest scientists of all time? Join Charles Darwin and find out.

Click here to see a fun, illuminating lesson plan
that connects a CCSS classroom activity to this book.

Prepared by Dr. Rose Reissman, Literacy Specialist and CCSS Alignment consultant

Click below to hear Rosalyn Schanzer's BlogTalkRadio's interview
about Charles Darwin


For her tribute to Darwin's five-year voyage around the world, Rosalyn Schanzer melds a graphic-novel style, lively illustrations, straightforward narration and excerpts from Darwin's journals. The landscapes are gorgeous (the white cliffs of Patagonia's Atlantic coast, the tortoise-and-lizard-filled Galapagos), the animals expressive and the amount of information dizzying...
~The Washington Post Book World- February 2009

Fully illustrated with many colorful panels on each page, this large-format book introduces the life of Charles Darwin, concentrating on his experiences during the voyage of the HMS Beagle, with some follow-up on his later life, especially the publication and response to [his book] On the Origin of Species. Though the pages have a “young” look, there’s plenty of information for older readers to absorb. The presentation ends with a double-page map showing the Beagle’s route. A source bibliography is appended, along with comments on the research, writing, and illustrations as well as a source note directing readers to an impressively meticulous Internet site where the quoted passages appear. 
~Booklist 3/15/09

Darwin himself regales readers with his adventures and observations, gleaned by Schanzer. Since Darwin was a writer of considerable wit (and often a dash of self-deprecating humor), readers unaccustomed to nineteenth-century text will find it worth the effort to catch the rhythm of his prose: “Last night I experienced a most ludicrous difficulty in getting into [my hammock]; my great fault was in trying to put my legs in first.” In the final dozen or so pages that encapsulate the development of his theory of the evolution of species, it becomes clear that [Schanzer] has been judiciously editing his commentary all along so that readers can connect observations from his voyage with experiments conducted and conclusions drawn later in life. This is both an engaging and effective strategy for leading readers through the painstaking process that resulted in On the Origin of Species… There’s no doubt that the light-hearted caricature and speech bubbles make the scientific enterprise far less intimidating than straightforward text blocks and limited illustration. Review Code: R -- Recommended.
~The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March 2009 (Vol. 62, No. 7)

Join Darwin as he makes a Tahitian meal, watches six men trying to lift a turtle so big they can’t get it off the ground, and feels the aftershocks of an earthquake 400 miles away. In celebration of Darwin’s 200th birthday, author Rosalyn Schanzer’s new book depicts WHAT DARWIN SAW as he journeyed around the world in the 1830s. It’s brimming with information, practically pouring off each page, with excerpts from Darwin’s own notebook and many drawings to show species and places from his travels. My favorite drawings are the large lizards, which he finds on one of the Galapagos Islands and refers to as "imps of darkness."
~Jory Hearst -
Politics and Prose Children's Book of the Week

Among the new picture books about Darwin being published for his bicentennial birthday, this one stands up well. Schanzer uses Darwin's own words, taken from his journals, books, and letters, in the speech balloons of her graphic depiction of the voyage of the Beagle. Bright, watercolor cartoons accurately portray landscapes and specimens while also creating a vivid sense of adventure.
~School Library Journal 3/09

I do not remember ever being so very impressed by a non-fiction picture book in my life. This is a book of the best kind, where what is shown is both compliment to and continuation of the words. I loved the clear prose with which Schanzer narrates and explains Darwin's voyage and his theories about evolution. Simple enough so that an eight year old can follow, complex enough so that the adult reader does not feel patronized. This book is a celebration of all the wonderful forms of life with which we share our planet.
~ http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com 3/16/09

I'd love a poster of this book, also the "family tree" of the evolutionary theory (p. 39) is poster-worthy. A well-researched book. Sidebars with additional information keep the story flowing. Illustrated beautifully. Great book - I want to read it again.
~Muddy Puddle Musings February 26, 2009


Tree of Life

Attributions for the quotes in What Darwin Saw can be found here

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