In an afterword, Kudlinski states that Carson’s books had helped her to choose a career in science. While her admiration for Carson is obvious, she makes it clear that she thoroughly researched her topic, research that led her to examine primary materials of Carson’s life that were available at Yale University.
Kudlinski presents Carson as a brilliant woman whose diligence toward the tasks before her determined that whatever she accomplished would be done thoroughly. Her life was divided between her career and her family’s needs. Although she never married, she cared for her parents, the two nieces who were orphaned by her sister’s death, and the little boy also left orphaned when one of those nieces died an early death.
Kudlinski selects incidents in Carson’s life that were pivotal in her growth or career. Each of the chapters, which are about six pages long, is developed around such an incident. Short chapter titles announce the events that are developed in the chapters. The eight chapters are divided so that they give an overview of Carson’s career.
In each chapter, Kudlinski develops a story that indicates how a certain issue became important in Carson’s life and how Carson’s action or decision to resolve the incident set the stage for the next chapter. Historical events are also described if they affected the subject’s life or career. The Great Depression, for example, made it necessary for Carson to provide a home for her mother....
(The entire section is 610 words.)
Kudlinski is careful to supply a brief but accurate biography for the middle-grade reader. Her interpretation of Carson’s character agrees with that of biographers writing for an adult audience, but she presents her subject’s life in a more direct and uncomplicated manner. The author chose what to include, and what to omit, with great care. The result is a well-written biography, a work that does not require that the reader approach it with any antecedent knowledge of Carson or her work.
Rachel Carson is one book in a series published by Viking Kestrel entitled Women of Our Time, which also contains volumes on such figures as child actress and diplomat Shirley Temple Black, comedian Carol Burnett, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and children’s author Laura Ingalls Wilder. The series introduces middle-grade readers to famous women of the twentieth century. In books of fewer than sixty pages, young readers find the stories of women whose careers had a significant impact on other people’s lives. Kudlinski herself wrote another work for the Women of Our Time series, Juliette Gordon Low: America’s First Girl Scout (1988), which was intended for an even younger audience. Rachel Carson was well reviewed when it appeared in 1988, and it has since been included on many lists of suggested books for young readers.