Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Boy Who Changed the World

The Boy Who Changed the World is the first children's book by New York Times best-selling author Andy Andrews. It uses history to illustrate the butterfly effect, a theory that everything -- even something as slight as the flapping of a butterfly's wings -- has long-reaching, even eternal repercussions.

As a boy Norman Borlaug decided to change the world. He learned all that he could about plants and, when he was grown, he developed special seeds that grew into super plants that eventually saved over two billion people from starvation. He was the boy that changed the world. Or maybe it was Henry.

As a boy Henry Wallace spent a lot of time with George, a student of his father's. George taught Henry a lot about plants, too. Henry learned so much that he eventually became the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and then he became the Vice President of the United States. In that position he hired Norman Borlaug to create the special seeds that changed the world. But then Henry couldn't have done any of that without George.

As a boy George Washington (not that George Washington) was adopted by Moses Carver. George Washington Carver was taught early that little things can make a big difference. He used little things to change the world. He became a teacher and an inventor, creating 266 things from the peanut that we still use today! It was he who taught Henry about plants so that Henry could dream of a special seed that Norman could make. But maybe it all started with Moses.

As a boy Moses Carver worked on a farm with his mom and dad. His parents taught him to make good choices. "Every choice you make, good or bad, can make a difference." Moses grew up and married a woman named Susan. One night outlaws came to their farm and tried to hurt their workers. The outlaws kidnapped some of them, including a young child named George. Moses made the choice to trade his favorite horse for that little boy, then adopted the child as his own.

"So if Moses hadn't saved George from the outlaws, George wouldn't have grown up to take Henry on walks in the forest. Then Henry wouldn't have become interested in plants ... Norman wouldn't have developed the special seeds that grew into super plants. And without the super plants, two billion people would have nothing to eat."

The author neatly concludes with an explanation of the butterfly effect. He tells readers that each of them can be the kid who changes the world.

"God made your life so important that ... everything you do matters for everyone and for all time!"

The illustrations by Philip Hurst feature color-intense water paintings. They are inviting and warm, a wonderful complement to the inspiring text.

What I Like: I love seeing the ripple effect evidenced in true stories! I feel it could ignite greater interest in history among readers. This book is tremendously inspiring. It sparked a whole conversation with my kids about how they would change the world. I also really liked the illustrations. The subtle inclusion of butterflies on each page delighted my daughter who felt this was "a boys' book."

What I Dislike: I think it's a stretch to say everything we do matters. Yes, our choices can have long-reaching and lasting effects, but not every choice does. This book possesses a beautifully inspiring message, but this over-emphasis may encourage un-due guilt in certain personalities that naturally obsess over always making the "right" decisions.

Overall Rating:

Age Appeal:
4-8, though I might say 5-10.

Publisher Info:
Thomas Nelson, 2010; ISBN: 1400316057; Hardback; 40 pages; $16.99

Buy it Now at for $12.99!

OR Buy it at for $11.55.

Special Info: This title is also available as an eBook. Visit the author's website at

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've always loved and benefited from your reviews.
Just want to share a bit of the background / controversy of the genetical engineering work of Norman Borlaug for what it's worth--

- Katherine