Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne (Picture Book Biographies from A to Z - Letter E)

On a Beam of Light
by Jennifer Berne
pictures by Vladimir Radunsky
2013. Chronicle Books


Albert Einstein (1879-1955) is the theoretical physicist responsible for developing the general theory of relativity.


While this book makes a nice story, it doesn't do much for kids who want to answer specific questions about Albert Einstein. There is nothing at the start of the book to indicate why Albert Einstein is famous, and there is no mention anywhere in the book, except the CIP, of the years of his birth and death. There is lots of waxing poetic about Einstein's curiosity, and his genius, and several pages are devoted to the fact that he didn't speak until he was three, but nothing concrete enough to help a child not already familiar with Einstein learn anything significant about him.

About the Illustrations

I'm not crazy about Vladimir Radunsky's artwork in general. It strikes me as sloppy and hard for kids to decode. In this particular book there isn't really much to see in the pictures. Each page shows Einstein at increasingly more mature stages of life imagining numbers and equations and diagrams that are presented without context. There is one interesting spread where every image is colored with dots, meant to represent the atoms of which people and objects are comprised, but that really only stands out because the others are so boring.

Author's Note

There is an author's note at the end of the book, which talks some about Einstein's work and interests but honestly, the most useful thing about it is that it directs the reader to better sources for actual useful information about Einstein.

Additional Comments

The audience for this book would have to be kids who already know of Einstein and have shown an interest in reading more about him for fun. That seems like such a small potential readership that I'm not sure why this book was published at all.

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