This biography of Carver offers much to the young adult reader. First, it sends the message that all things are possible, providing a success story with which a youth from the most humble of circumstances can identify. Carver was born almost without an identity: He was without name, good health, good looks, money, or possessions. As an African American, he was born in a time when most opportunities were not available to him, causing him to ponder his role in society. His determination and steadfastness allowed him to overcome what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles and ultimately to become one of the world’s most admired people.
Second, in telling Carver’s story, Means vividly depicts the injustices that have been inflicted because of racism, and she provides a realistic setting for the denunciation of such prejudices. Examining the deleterious effects of racism in the context of the life of a remarkable, noncontroversial individual seems to be an effective approach to dispelling such prejudices. It is equally significant, however, that the author identifies those individuals who helped Carver in his life and career, establishing that there have been good, fair people in all periods of history.
Third, the content of the story is interesting and should be fascinating to most readers, both young and old. Carver’s struggles for a meaningful, fulfilling life are told in descriptive language that also examines aspects of the natural world and characteristics of divergent personalities. The accounts of his zest for learning, his uncanny ability to do the common things uncommonly well, and his creation of thousands of useful products from the...
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Means, a minister’s daughter, was always interested in the history of minorities in the United States, writing first about the Hopi tribe. Means wrote Carvers’ George after conducting an extensive study of the scientist’s life, even visiting Carver himself several years before his death. She gathered information from his associates and traveled to important places from his life.
Because Carver was neither a sports figure nor a dazzling entertainer nor a politi-cian, his life story provides a much-needed additional hero figure and role model for youths, especially young African-American readers. Although a discussion of Carver, the scientist, has always been included in American history lessons, the personal details of his life have not always been shared with students. Carvers’ George has enjoyed renewed popularity as many schools have observed Black History month and have been more attentive to the identity and self-concept needs of all children. Carver’s biography may be considered a critical tool for helping young people find heroes and role models, for attempting to dispel prejudices, for striving to establish the worth of all individuals, and for recognizing the contributions of a great scientist to humankind.