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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

On a Beam of Light A Story of Albert Einstein

This is a book I discoverd by way of a website called Calling Caldecott. You can read their very thorough review of this book here.  This book is one of many they have up for discussion as a possible Caldecott winner. There have been quite a lot of mentions of non-fiction books as Caldecott hopefuls this year. I wonder how many nonfiction books have actually won the Caldecott in the past. That would be something to look up. I love that there are great picture books about nonfiction topics and that they're part of the conversation for award winners, too!

From the Publisher: A boy rides a bicycle down a dusty road. But in his mind, he envisions himself traveling at a speed beyond imagining, on a beam of light. This brilliant mind will one day offer up some of the most revolutionary ideas ever conceived. From a boy endlessly fascinated by the wonders around him, Albert Einstein ultimately grows into a man of genius recognized the world over for profoundly illuminating our understanding of the universe. Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky invite the reader to travel along with Einstein on a journey full of curiosity, laughter, and scientific discovery. Parents and children alike will appreciate this moving story of the powerful difference imagination can make in any life.

Strengths: Love that there's a picture book of Einstein. Love how the drawings of an older Einstein really capture his look. One of my favorites is him with the ice cream cone. There is interesting information in this book that I wasn't familiar with, like that he didn't talk until he was three. Wonder if he'd be diagnosed autistic now. Wonder if perhaps he was, in face, a person with high functioning Asperger's. Interesting idea.

Weaknesses: I like the drawings in this book myself, but I wonder if kids will like them. They seem a little far from mainstream, perhaps a little old-fashioned to have broad appeal. The text seems to jump around a bit, and may leave younger readers confused. Also, the discussion of atoms is perhaps too incomplete.

I don't actually think this will win the Caldecott, but I did enjoy the book. I think it would be a book best read aloud with an adult who could have conversation with a young reader about the text, at leat initially, as opposed to being a read alone book. Not the kind of nonfiction text students will use for beginning research, although as an additional text for young researchers, it could add some interesting tidbits. Does contain author notes at the end that might add to research.

I read an e-book version of this from Multnomah County Libraries

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