32 pages

Age Range: 7 years and up

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers

ISBN-10: 1419718401

ISBN-13: 978-1419718403


* Orbis Pictus Honor Book, National Council of Teachers of English

* Notable Book, American Library Association

* Notable Book, International Reading Association

* Finalist, AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Book

Classroom Connections

Dr. Lisa Bircher writes in The Science Teacher about using this book as a read-aloud to "hook" high school students and assess prior knowledge at the start of genetics unit.

How do mothers and fathers pass down traits to their children?

The world's first geneticist, Gregor Mendel explains to children the theory of heredity in simple-to-understand language and examples. Regarded as the world’s first geneticist, Gregor Mendel discovered one of the fundamental aspects of genetic science: animals, plants, and people all inherit and pass down traits through the same process. Living the slow-paced, contemplative life of a friar, Gregor Mendel was able to conceive and put into practice his great experiment—observing yellow peas, green peas, smooth peas, and wrinkled peas to craft his theory—years before scientists had any notion of genes. Includes an author’s note and bibliography.


School Library Journal

An attractive picture-book biography, this slim, oversize volume is as much a treat for the eye as it is for the curious mind. Smiths crisp, realistic paintings, often flooded with the bright green of pea plants, accompany Bardoes readable text describing a scientist whose physical and educational needs led him to the religious life, but whose curiosity about inherited traits caused him to become the "father" of genetics. Bright diagrams clearly depict Mendels famous plants, the internal arrangement of their seeds, and the results of carefully controlled experiments in cross-breeding with certain traits firmly in mind. An extensive author's note presents further information. This eye-catching picture-book biography falls nicely into a field that already includes the complexities of Peter Siss fascinating The Tree of Life, Michael Doolings handsome Young Thomas Edison, James Cross Giblins eloquent Thomas Jefferson, and Diane Stanleys attractive Leonardo da Vinci.

Kirkus Reviews

Bardoe describes Mendel’s childhood in the country, his hunger for learning so great he went without food to pay for his lessons and eventually joined the Abbey of St. Thomas, a community of intellectuals, in order to make the pursuit of knowledge his life’s work. His groundbreaking experiments with peas justifiably occupy the bulk of the account, the descriptions of the dogged work of preparation and control painting a portrait of patience and scientific single-mindedness. Smith’s gentle illustrations fit their deliberate subject perfectly; the diagrams of the hybrid peas themselves are a marvel of clarity. The pacing of page-turns is a masterly recreation on paper of the cycle of waiting and discovery Mendel himself experienced over the years-long course of his study. The narrative moves back and forth from hard science, collegially explaining such complex concepts as genetic traits and dominant and recessive genes, to the vicissitudes of scholarship, sympathetically revealing how Mendel’s genius was overlooked during his life. A lovely tribute.


Smith’s watercolors follow Mendel from his studious, enterprising youth to his decision to become a friar, a profession that helped him “feed his body, mind, and soul” and enabled him...to pursue his desire to make a great discovery. That he was unable to convince nineteenth-century scientists that he did, indeed, discover a “universal law that would apply to all living things” brought an end to his scientific endeavors, though as Bardoe indicates, his discoveries have profoundly influenced our world. Easy-to-understand graphs show the results of Mendel’s experiments, which, along with his theories, are clearly explained...A fine source of introductory information on both the man and the science he pioneered.