Review: On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne

on a beam of light

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

The author of Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau (my review) returns with this picture book biography of Einstein.  It follows the story of Einstein from birth through his series of amazing discoveries about the universe.  The book begins with pages where Einstein as a small child does not speak until he is inspired to ask questions thanks to a compass which is given to him.  Einstein is also inspired by picturing his bicycle riding on beams of light, racing through space.  So he began to study science and numbers and after graduating from college wanted to be a teacher.  Instead, he found a job working in a government office where he had extra time to think.  That time to think turned into incredible discoveries about science and the nature of the universe until scientists and professors were seeking Einstein out to come and work with them.  The end of the book celebrates Einstein’s eccentricities as well as the discoveries that he made.  This is an inspiring look at a scientist who broke all the rules and decoded the universe.

Berne’s writing truly celebrates this amazing thinker.  The pacing is brisk, but the tone allows readers to linger and think if they wish to.  When she focuses on his odder behaviors, they are seen through a lens of what they meant for his genius rather than just being peculiar.  And who wouldn’t want to not wear socks and have ice cream too! 

Radunsky’s illustrations are done on textured paper that adds a soft yellow glow to the entire book, something wonderful to have in a book that speaks about rays of light.  His drawings are rough and have a wonderful sense of playfulness. 

A great read about a great man, this picture book biography should be welcomed by young scientists as well as in science classrooms.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

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