Monday, November 25, 2013

On a Beam of Light

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky. Grades 2 and up. Chronicle Books, April 2013. Unpaged. Review copy provided by my local library.

"[His teachers] said he would never amount to anything unless he learned to behave like all the other students. But Albert didn't want to be like the other students. He wanted to discover the hidden mysteries in the world."

If you're looking for a basic biography of Albert Einstein with names and dates and places and accomplishments, you may want to look elsewhere. BUT if you are looking for a book that illuminates exactly why Albert Einstein was so important and why his way of thinking was revolutionary, do not miss this book.

It starts with Albert's childhood and the fact that he was late to talk and he got into trouble at school. Albert didn't think like other people, so many people thought he was strange. He wanted to teach after he graduated from college, but he couldn't find a job as a teacher. Eventually, the very qualities that disturbed people - questioning the universe, thinking deeply about many things - would lead to some of the most important scientific discoveries in our history.

The more I think about this book, the more I love it. The picture book format obviously limits the number of words the author could use to get this big, huge concept across and she does it beautifully. Vladimir Radunsky's illustrations pair perfectly to the text. I didn't like them at first! I thought they were strange and a little disturbing....... much like Albert Einstein himself (light bulb!). I especially like the spreads that illustrate some of the theories that Einstein proved (everything is made up of atoms and wonky time if you traveled at the speed of light).

An author's note makes up the back matter, providing some additional facts and anecdotes about Einstein's life. Berne also provides a short list of recommended further reading. I do miss a timeline, but okay this really is more about a big idea and less about dates. Okay.

This would make a perfect pairing with any Einstein biography and has a place in every science classroom.

Happy Nonfiction Monday! This week's roundup is hosted at Jean Little Library, so make sure to stop by and check out what the bloggers are reading this week.