Now is the perfect time to teach kids about Rachel Carson—2012 marks the 50th anniversary of her pivotal work, Silent Spring. Author Laurie Lawlor’s new book is a primer to Carson’s journey from curious child to passionate environmental advocate. Born on the outskirts of Springdale, Pennsylvania amid woods, orchards, and
fields, the cherubic Carson—captured simply but aptly by illustrator Laura Beingessner—immersed herself in nature, a pastime that sustained her through adulthood. Curious and determined, she overcame her inherent shyness to study biology in a male-dominated field, eventually landing a job at the Bureau of Fisheries. “As a biologist for 15 years, she went places where few women ventured,” writes Lawlor, such as a coral reef off Florida’s coast. Depicted in underwater garb consisting of a heavy helmet and spaceman-like suit, she opens her arms in symbolic embrace of the colorful creatures that swim across the page. But, as kids will learn, Carson wasn’t just a gender pioneer—she also led a nation against the chemical industry whose unruly use of insecticides threatened birds, insects, fish, and other living beings. “She worked for four years to complete Silent Spring,” while fighting an incurable cancer writes Lawlor, yet, “She refused to give up.” Talk about a mentor.