Review of Force of Nature: A Novel of Rachel Carson

Force of Nature: A Novel of Rachel Carson Force of Nature: A Novel of Rachel Carson
by Ann E. Burg; illus. by Sophie Blackall
Intermediate, Middle School    Scholastic    304 pp.
3/24    9781338883381    $19.99
e-book ed.  9781338883404    $19.99

In this first-person novel in verse, Burg (Serafina’s Promise, rev. 9/13) imagines the life of the groundbreaking environmentalist from age eleven through adulthood. Rachel possesses a heightened awareness of nature and makes close observation of the plants, birds, and animals in the surrounding fields and woods. When a teacher praises her writing, she vows to become a writer of fiction. Many obstacles thwart her success, including multiple family crises, so she shifts her career ambitions to studying science. While the limitations on women in the field keep her from capitalizing on all the skills and scientific knowledge she acquires, she is persistent and publishes articles, pamphlets, letters, reports, and books—laying the foundation for a global movement of environmental awareness and action. Burg’s lyrical language keeps the focus on Carson’s love of nature and raises many questions that prompt the reader to think critically; e.g., “Why is science considered / the realm of men? / Are we not all people?” and “When will man realize that he / is a part of nature, not its master?” Along with interspersed “Field Notes,” Blackall’s occasional black-and-white illustrations of plants and animals aptly suggest a kind of nature journal.

From the May/June 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sylvia Vardell

Sylvia Vardell is a professor in the School of Library & Information Studies at Texas Woman’s University and author of Children’s Literature in Action, Poetry Aloud Here, A World Full of Poems and the Poetry for Children blog.

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