Jean Craighead George, illus. by Wendell Minor. Harper, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-028793-1


From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY  starred review

In a posthumously published story from award-winning author George, the author personalizes an evolutionary tale by spotlighting one species, the saddleback tortoises of Pinta Island. Beginning with a common ancestor, referred to as Giantess George, that originated in South America, the story traces the species’ arrival in the Galápagos and relates some of the islands’ history, including a visit from Charles Darwin. The book culminates with the death of the last of the Pinta Island saddlebacks, known as Lonesome George, which died within weeks of the author in 2012. Minor’s signature soft-edged watercolors fill the spreads with realism and muted hues. One particularly stunning scene brings readers face-to-face with Giantess George, a turquoise, star-filled sky in the background: “When she was almost two hundred years old, Giantess George died. But she left behind long-necked offspring who had longer-necked offspring, who had even longer-necked offspring.” Skillfully capturing the concept of adaptation in natural selection, this succinct story continues its creators’ tradition of inspiring awe and appreciation for the natural world. 

The life of the tortoise and the plants and animals...are illustrated in vivid, brilliant color paintings... 

Minor’s painterly illustrations showcase the changing setting and the magnificence of the tortoises.


Minor’s paintings are gorgeous, befitting the awesome Galápagos scenery...

A born storyteller, Jean George describes Giantess George's lengthy presence on the planet, watching animals large and small "run over the footprints of the long-vanished dinosaurs." ... One dramatic illustration depicts Lonesome George, the last of Giantess George's descendants, as large as two of the six men it took to transport him to safety. Minor's closing portrait is so expressive that children will feel as if Lonesome George somehow knew there would be no others after him.  This beautiful homage conveys complex ideas in concrete ways so children can witness how these extraordinary tortoises survived so long in their particular habitats.  Splendid.

Famed Newbery-winning author (for Julie of the Wolves and My Side of the Mountain) Jean Craighead George's last book, Galapagos George (Harper, 2014), tells this true tale of how habitat change can bring down even such a mighty species as the giant tortoise... Artist Wendell Minor's powerful, almost monumental, watercolor illustrations tell her final story well, and despite its sadly inevitable ending for its subject, Minor ends with a tribute to the author with whom he had worked on many books with her own hopeful words. "As long as there is life, there will always be new and unimaginable things that can happen. And they do, all the time."

...The watercolor paintings by Wendell Minor are absolutely exquisite.  Close up, detailed portraits of the tortoises really showcases these beautiful creatures, and other more panoramic illustrations give a sense of time and place....

Jean Craighead George and Wendell Minor have made another beautiful, informative book together in Galapagos George.
...luminous paintings (how does he get the light perfectly?) give the reader a true sense of time and place.  Intricate details using tiny, delicate brushstrokes transform his double-page, single page and smaller illustrations into pictures asking you to pause and appreciate. Just as Jean Craighead George would have wished I got caught up in the extended story of Galapagos George.  Be sure to read the In Remembrance paragraph written by Twig George, Jean's daughter.  I like to think that somewhere a very special tortoise might be spending time walking with an extraordinary woman.

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