Dear Nonfiction Monday Regulars,
This weekend I have been upgrading the website that goes with this blog. Yes, there is a Wrapped in Foil website. It contains lists of children’s books set in each of the 50 United States (so far). It started as a resource for a friend who was traveling across the country with her kids, but I have been slowly expanding it.
If you take a look, I would appreciate any comments you have or suggestions that would make it more user-friendly. If you can think of books to add to any of the lists, that would be great, too.
And now to our regularly scheduled review:
The picture book biography I, Galileo by Bonnie Christensen has been getting quite a bit of buzz around children’s literature circles, including a review in The New York Times and a Cybils nomination.
This buzz is well-deserved praise. Starting with the title written in glittery stars (at least in the hardcover version), Bonnie Christensen has nailed the details. Her illustrations create a mood of the times, which was appropriately dark like paintings that have aged. She also unexpectedly uses the first person, making the story fresh and accessible.
Some of the details are not often emphasized. I didn’t realize Galileo spent so many years using his telescope lens as a microscope instead. Ironically, he described the flea that would later be recognized as the carrier of the bubonic plague that so devastated his country. Revealing some of his earlier struggles, such as dropping out of school and losing his first job, let children know that even geniuses stumble at times.
Christensen also does a fabulous job of subtly setting Galileo’s life in time by relating it to other events. For example, the text mentions Columbus, who had already sailed to America well before Galileo was born. The “Chronology” in the back matter shows Galileo was born at the same time as Shakespeare, and lived during the time Jamestown was being founded.
I, Galileo is a carefully-crafted biography of a fascinating person, one who set the groundwork for all the scientists who followed him. It is sure to inform and excite both young scientists and budding historians, alike.
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (June 12, 2012)
Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by Booktalking to see who is hosting each week.