Review: I, Galileo by Bonnie Christensen

i galileo

I, Galileo by Bonnie Christensen

Told in the first person, this look at Galileo’s life is made all the more personal through the unique point of view.   Galileo tells the tale from the house and walled garden he is imprisoned in.  Blind and aging, he recalls his childhood and the way that he helped his father with his musical experiments after leaving the university with no degree.  He was offered a teaching position in the same university a bit later, but he refused to be traditional and instead wore what he liked and tested Aristotle’s laws of physics.  He was soon let go of his teaching role and headed to another university where they were more interested in his experiments.  There he invented the compass and the telescope.  Looking through his telescope, Galileo discovered that the sun is the center of the universe.  It was then that his troubles truly began.  For seven years, he was bound to silence about his findings until a new man became pope.  When Galileo finally published his findings, they so incensed people that he was tried for heresy before the Inquisition.  And so the story comes back to the old man imprisoned in the walled garden.

Through a brief preface, Christensen sets the stage for the time period of Galileo’s life.  It will help modern children understand the technology that was not available in that day.   Her afterword is equally intriguing and helpful, explaining that it took almost four centuries (until 1992) for the Catholic Church to admit they were wrong to condemn Galileo.  Christensen paints a picture of the world around Galileo well.  His discoveries, his world of academia, the political and religious powers at play, and his mistreatment at their hands.  This book is exceedingly readable.

It is also lovely.  The illustrations are done in jewel tones that have a depth and richness.  They almost recall stained glass with their thicker black lines and the light that shines in each of them.  Even the image of Galileo before the Inquisition plays with light and color. 

A choice pick for libraries looking for a readable and interesting biography of this heroic scientist.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.

Review: Chloe, Instead by Micah Player

chloe instead

Chloe, Instead by Micah Player

When Molly heard that she was going to have a younger sister, she wanted one that was just like her.  But she got Chloe, instead.  Molly likes to color with crayons.  Chloe likes crayons too, but she likes to eat them.  Molly likes to read books.  Chloe likes books too, but she likes to rip them apart.  She won’t leave Molly’s things alone either.  So when Chloe pushes Molly a bit too far, she yells at her.  But then Molly thinks a bit and calls Chloe back to dance along with her music.  Suddenly, they feel just like true sisters.  In the end, Molly is happy that Chloe is not just like her, instead Chloe is herself and that’s wonderful.

As the narrator, Molly nicely explains exactly how her little sister drives her crazy.  Any older sibling will recognize these behaviors.   It’s good to see a child lose her temper in a picture book and then move on to regain her composure and become positive again.  The ending is too pat and easy, and I wish there was a glimpse of a bit of tension in the end.  That said, the connection formed over music really worked for me as a plot point. 

As you can see from the cover, Player has created a vibrant palette for this picture book.  The bright colors combine with a modern vibe, creating a book that is great fun to read.  The text is simple and quick with pictures that will work well with a crowd.

Modern, dynamic and addressing sibling issues, this book will be welcomed into many families and into story times about siblings.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.