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

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 answer...by 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

More like this

This one's a bit of a head-scratcher. Richard Evan Schwartz's Really Big Numbers has a great premise. A kids book that takes some fairly advanced mathematical concepts and presents them in a lively, engaging and understandable format. So far, so good. Schwartz does a commendable job of taking the…
I have some theories about both children's books and about science-themed graphic works. There are basically two kinds of children's books: those that are designed to please children versus those that are designed to attract the adults that buy most children's books. There are also basically two…
This amusing book, Kanani K. M. Lee and Adam Wallenta's The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic: The Adventures of Geo, Vol. 1, is brought to us by the same people as the Survive! Inside the Human Body graphic novel series. As a result it has many of the same strengths but it also suffered from some…
This is the first popup book I've ever reviewed and I certainly hope it won't be the last. David Macaulay's How Machines Work: Zoo Break! is a wonderful, whimsical, delightful and beautiful book that will charm and fascinate anyone who picks it up. Aimed at younger children and told through the…