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Children, ages 2 to 3, who have been read to several times a day, did substantially better in kindergarten than youngs... More

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Author: Jean Craighead George

Illustrator: Wendell Minor

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Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, 2014

Material: hard cover

Summary: Galapagos George is the last saddleback tortoise. He lived on the Galapagos Islands for 100 years, dying in 2012. This story traces the journey of his ancestor, Giantess George, who came to the Galapagos in a storm. Maps and detailed illustrations show how the species adapted to their new environment before finally becoming extinct. This picture book offers science and biology in a fictional story.

Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 10; read yourself: 9 to 12

Interest Level: 5 to 12

Reading Level: 4.2

Age of Child: Read with children ages 4 and 6.

Young Reader Reaction: My children were a little confused by the timeline because it covers millions of years. Even so, they enjoyed it and asked to read it again.

Adult Reader Reaction: I liked the book because it helped introduce evolution to my children and we got to talk about it for awhile. I was surprised how much my kids enjoyed it even though they couldn't quite follow the timeline and distances.

Pros: There is a lot to explore in Galapagos George: evolution, extinction of dinosaurs and other species, as well as global warming, ecology, and rising oceans. There is plenty to interest children.

Cons: I think the story path is a bit muddled and confusing. One illustration of a tortoise's head offended me because it was so phallic; my son (6) pointed it out to me.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. IT is a great introduction to evolution and climate change for children. Even after reading it many times, my kids struggled to make sense of it. I wouldn't buy it.

If You Liked This Book, Try: WHERE SHOULD TURTLE BE?   PROWLING THE SEAS: EXPLORING THE HIDDEN WORLD OF OCEAN PREDATORS   LOOKING FOR MIZA; The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued One of Their Own

Educational Themes: The book introduces a number of science- and geography-based topics. Species evolution and extinction are primary, and the book can open discussions about human and nonhuman impact on animal species and living environments. Drawing out those themes can lead to more in-depth conversations about ecology, conservation, and climate change.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - animals, science, ecology, dinosaurs

Date(s) Reviewed: February 2016

Other Reviews: See Critics Reviews at; and reviews and reader feedback at


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