Don BrownWritten and illustrated by
Ages 6 and up
(Published in 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company)
This book introduced my girls to Albert Einstein, taking him from his birth to the years of his greatest accomplishments in theoretical physics, highlighting his early characteristics, personality and interests. My older two girls liked the book, even though they didn't understand the science it contained.
They were especially intrigued when the book mentions Einstein's early fascination with the compass, since they recently acquired compasses and we have been working on the concept of magnetic north and how to use a compass.
The author also includes a note at the end of the book containing more details of Einstein's life (including an intriguing suggestion of a book to read regarding what happened to Einstein's brain after he died), and lists other biographies to pursue more knowledge of Einstein.
Written by Joseph D'Agnese
Illustrated by John O'Brien
Ages 6 and up
(Published in 2010 by Henry Holt and Company)
The author says in his note at the end of the book that "Little is known about the life of the mathematician called Leonardo Fibonacci. This story is based on the few things we do know--and a bit of make-believe."
The book tells the story of young Leonardo Fibonacci who spends alot of time skylarking out of boredom and thinking about the numbers he sees in nature, much to the vexation of his teacher, who calls him a blockhead. His fellow students and the people of the town take up the refrain, so Leonardo spends much of his time feeling like he doesn't fit in. But one of the men who works for his father sees his potential and helps him explore his interest in numbers. As he travels the world with his merchant father, he learns about the Hindu-Arabic numerals. The ease of using them makes Leonardo excited to share them with the rest of the world, which is still using the clumsy Roman numerals. He wrote a book about the Hindu-Arabic numerals in which he included a riddle that became the famed Fibonacci Sequence. He realized that everywhere he looked in nature, he kept seeing the same numbers appearing: the numbers in his Fibonacci Sequence.
The book is well-written, and because it is told in first person narrative, it is very relate-able. I think D'Agnese does an excellent job of showing children that the natural world is full of numbers. D'Agnese also does an excellent job of presenting the Fibonacci Sequence in way that is easy to understand, although it may be a bit mind boggling to younger readers.
(I just hope I won't be hearing my girls call each other "Blockhead".)
Caldecott Honor Book
Ages 5 and up
(Published in 1996 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
"A book depicting the life of a famous scientist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, physicist: Galileo Galilei."
One of the things I really like about this fascinating book is that it has a little something for a wide spectrum of young (and old) readers. There is the main story line that is very readable and interesting for both younger and older children, and there are extra facts, fascinating trivia, and quotes from Galileo himself in cursive script, that will appeal to older readers of the book.
I only read the main story line on the first reading aloud of the book, so as not to interrupt the flow of the story. Then we went back and read some of the cursive parts. (Most of the information in the cursive parts was too detailed and the language and concepts too difficult to be of interest to my little girls, so I just skipped those parts. However, if Olivia or Karina happen to read it themselves, we'll deal with the questions that may arise.)
I liked the pictures that are so reminiscent of art in Galileo's day, but they were confusing to my girls. I think the pictures would be appreciated more by older children.