Charles and Emma; The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman - Book Review

Perhaps no scientist in modern history has stirred as much debate as Charles Darwin. But in 1838, a twenty-something Darwin had pressing concerns. He’d returned from his great, and science altering, five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle. It was time to make a choice. Down the center of a piece of paper he drew a line. On one side he wrote, “Marry,” on the opposing side he wrote, “Not Marry.” Across the top: “This is the Question.” Yes, young Charles had more pressing matters than whether to change the face of science and religion forever.

But because the story is called Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, we begin knowing Charles’s decision, can easily guess that the pros outweighed the cons. And the pros of the Darwin’s marriage are plenty: a loving and understanding relationship, a respectful friendship, ten children, a beautiful home and blessed life.

There are two ways to review Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, one from its engaging nature and one from that of a young adult. Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith held my attention and piqued an interest in the Darwins, though I’d never really considered Charles or his theories much before. But, as a reading educator, I kept wondering whether this would be the case for a middle grade student, the book’s target market. There’s no dramatic tension associated with young love and little cinematic-friendly plot. Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith is a sweet, simple tale of a scientist and his devout wife.

Much like my split review, Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith makes a great addition for school library biography sections, but I’d pass this one up for classroom purchase.

-------------------- Resources --------------------

Genre: Biography. Age: Publisher says 9-12. I say Young Adult. Pages: 272.

Themes: Family, Love, Loss, Science, Religion
Thanks to The Picnic Basket & Henry Holt.
Publisher: Henry Holt. Date: December 2008.
ISBN-10: 0805087214 / ISBN-13: 978-0805087215

Buy Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith Here

NPR Interview: HERE

School Library Journal Interview: HERE

LA Times article

Teacher's Guide: HERE (scroll down)

Author Deborah Heiligman possibly became a children's writer thanks to the E.L. Konigsburg novel, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. She enjoyed writing for Scholastic News until her sons were born, then she became a freelance writer. She has now published close to thirty books and is available for school, library and almost any other group visits. You can learn more on her website, her live journal page or you can follow her on Twitter.
© 2007-2009 Cheryl Vanatti for

Bookmark and Share