Reading Diary: On a beam of light: A story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky

Aug 09 2013 Published by under book review, science books

Albert's Ideas helped build spaceships and satellites that travel to the moon and beyond. His thinking helped us understand our universe as no one ever had before.

But still, Albert left us many big questions. Questions that scientists are working on today.

Questions that someday you may wondering, thinking and imagining.

So ends the incredibly wonderful children's book On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein with words by Jennifer Berne and pictures by Vladimir Radunsky.

Aimed at a preschool audience, this book tells the story of Albert Einstein's life in lively and accessible prose and, appropriately for Einstein's era, very impressionistic pictures. It tells the tale of a dreamy and curious boy who grew up to be a dreamy, curious and very famous man. One of the things I like most about the book is the way it emphasizes the role of curiosity -- thinking, dreaming, reading and especially asking questions -- in Einstein's life and career. His years at the Swiss patent office are highlighted as a time where he could really think deeply.

It even broaches some of topic areas of his discoveries like Brownian motion or relativity. One missed opportunity perhaps would have been to show one of Einstein's thought experiments in a bit more depth. Perhaps it was thought that the target audience was too young to be able to get a good explanation at the right level. On the other hand, some illustrated Einsteinian thought experiments might make a very fine children's book on their own.

The tone is both light-hearted and engaging, a sense of fun and whimsy permeate the words and pictures throughout which is very fitting for Einstein since he never lost his playfulness. This is definitely a book that children will find as wondrous and delightful as the adults in their lives will feel virtuous and serious-minded for buying it for them.

This is a book I would recommend without hesitation to any library that serves small children, up until the age when they start reading. That would include public libraries and daycare collections for sure. This would also make a great gift for any family with young children -- which is what's going to happen to my copy now that I'm done with it.

My previous kid's book review was of The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős by Deborah Heiligman and LeUyen Pham which was also wonderful. That review also contains some recommendations for kid's books about female mathematicians.

Berne, Jennifer and Vladimir Radunsky. On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein. San Francisco: Chronicle, 2013. 56pp. ISBN-13: 978-0811872355

One response so far

Leave a Reply