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Book Review: On A Beam Of Light By Jennifer Berne, Illustrated By Vladimir Radunsky


A long time ago a baby named Albert was born.


He didn’t talk much as a baby. He didn’t talk much as a toddler. He didn’t talk much as a child. But with his big, curious eyes he looked at the world around him and wondered.

Then one day as he lie sick in bed, his father brought him a compass. Fascinated by the invisible hand of magnetism, young Albert began asking questions. He asked so many questions that the people he knew ran out of answers.

So Albert began finding the answers himself, and in the process he changed the way the world looked at time, space and reality itself.

Of course the Albert in this story is Albert Einstein. Jennifer Berne brings his story to life for young readers in this delightful biography. By focusing on Albert’s inquisitive nature, she shows children how the very act of asking questions can shape and even change our view of the world.

She focuses on one particular question, or ‘thought experiment,” that Einstein performed early in his life. Einstein imagined himself on a bicycle travelling at the speed of light and wondered what the rest of the world would look like from that perspective.

Radunsky’s rough pen and ink illustrations subtly underscore Einstein’s theories that nothing is as fixed as it seems. The faux textured paper recalls the comfy, baggy wool pants and sweaters that Einstein was fond of wearing.

In addition to highlighting the obvious intellectual qualities of her subject, Berne also takes the time to focus on the childlike qualities of this amazing genius. In doing so, she helps make the man (if not his ideas) accessible to even the youngest readers. In fact, she dedicates the book to “the next Einstein, who is probably a child now.” At the end of the book, Berne adds six more in-depth paragraphs for further insight into Einstein’s life and beliefs. For budding scientists and future geniuses, this book is sure to be an inspiration.

Read more book reviews by Brian Rock, a children’s writer and award winning songwriter.


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