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[Nonfiction Wednesday] From Slave To Plant Doctor: George Washington Carver

"The Secret Garden Of George Washington Carver" by Gene Barretta and Frank Morrison.

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

The Secret Garden Of George Washington Carver (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Gene Barretta Illustrated by Frank Morrison
Published by Katherine Tegen Books (2020)
ISBN: 0062430157 (ISBN13: 9780062430151) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

I know readers are not supposed to judge a book by its cover – but there is just something so visually arresting with this book cover that spoke volumes to me. I am glad that the story itself did not disappoint.

George Washington Carver was born into slavery – exact date of birth unknown. He was kidnapped with his mother and nearly died, but the universe had something else planned for this intelligent Black man who fell in love with the “peace of wild things” – the earth underneath his fingers, the smell of the soil, and the beauty of flowers.

He kept his garden secret because he was often teased for planting flowers – useless beautiful things that can neither be eaten nor harvested. Yet, he listened to his own counsel, and knew there was something special in the way he cared for plants that blossomed under his care, even as they wilted and died under another’s hands.

I really liked the flow of the narrative – moving forward and backward in time – showing the reader the young George Washington Carver and the respected man he eventually became. He was the first Black man to earn a Master’s degree from Iowa Agricultural College and eventually became a revered, award-winning botanist and environmentalist. Despite the fact that he encountered racism and multiple setbacks, he was hungry for knowledge and determined to share and give back the knowledge he gained to farmers and his community.

I also fell in love with Frank Morrison’s art in this story: bursting with greens and beauty. George Washington Carver’s dignity shone through in each page. Teachers would also be happy to note that there is a detailed timeline at the end of the story and a modest list of references for young readers who would like to know more about this inspirational man’s life.

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 8 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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