Subscribe to The Horn Book

Review of Galápagos George

george_ galápagos georgeGalápagos George
by Jean Craighead George; 
illus. by Wendell Minor
Primary    Harper/HarperCollins    40 pp.
4/14    978-0-06-028793-1    $15.99    g

Jean Craighead George begins the evolutionary story of the tortoises on Galápagos archipelago with a single female, Giantess George, and asks readers to extrapolate from the life cycle of that one animal to the development of the species as a whole. The saga begins like a folktale, with the long ago and far away: “This is a story that took so long to happen that only the stars were present at the beginning and the end,” which signals to readers that this narrative may be a fictional one. But the account abruptly changes when Giantess George and other tortoises are caught in a major storm and transported to different islands; over thousands of years, they evolve into different sub-species. Here readers must become literary switch hitters, changing their perspective mid-book from reading about the character Giantess George (a tortoise) to a generalized species of animals (the tortoises). The account concludes with another switch, this time from species back to individual, with the death of the last Galápagos tortoise, Galápagos George (a.k.a. Lonesome George). Minor’s painterly illustrations showcase the changing setting and the magnificence of the tortoises. The book concludes with a glossary, a timeline (from three million years ago until the death of Galápagos George in 2012), a bibliography, and suggested websites.

From the March/April 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Betty Carter

Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.



  1. The book is an absolute stunner. Wendall Minor’s illustrations are magnificent and the emotional book pays tribute to a vanished creature and children’s book icon Jean Craighead George. Excellent review here.

    This appears to be a worthy Caldecott contender.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind