The Incredible yet True Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: The Incredible yet True Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt: The Greatest Inventor-Naturalist-Scientist-Explorer Who Ever Lived
Author: Volker Mehnert
Major Themes: Alexander von Humboldt, Exploration, Geography, Science, Biography, Picture Books, 18th Century, 19th Century, South America, Europe
Synopsis: This picture book describes the life of an amazing explorer and scientist who we had never even heard of before!
I always enjoy children’s nonfiction picture books that tell the story of a person’s life. One of my recent finds was The Incredible Yet True Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt. I read it to a few of my boys while some of the others were away for a couple of days, and they thoroughly enjoyed this story.
Alexander von Humboldt was the younger son of an aristocratic family in Berlin in the late 1700s. Instead of doing his lessons, he would rather investigate the creatures and plants he found in the family’s backyard. As a young man, he got a job with the government and helped to make the mines safer. Once he had made his fortune, he wanted to travel—but where?
After finding a friend who also wanted to travel, Alexander set out for the Americas to study everything he possibly could. This included climbing into live volcanos, canoeing up and down wild rivers (and proving that rivers in South America behaved differently than the ones in Europe!), and climbing mountains. He collected plant, animal, soil and rock samples from every place he visited—and hauled them along with him!
After returning to Europe, Alexander found himself in high demand as a popular lecturer. People flocked to listen to him describe his discoveries. He was able to make one more trip, through Siberia at the bidding of the tsar—but was not able to take his time as he wanted to for investigation, much to his sorrow.
The boys who were at home when I read this story aloud greatly enjoyed it. They found the story quite a lot more interesting than the pictures, although the pictures did add to our enjoyment. After the others returned home, they were told about this amazing man we would never have heard about if we hadn’t come across this book!
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12
Links to buy The Incredible yet True Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Book Depository: Hardcover
Keywords: Alexander von Humboldt, Exploration, Geography, Science, Biography, Picture Books, 18th Century, 19th Century, South America, Europe