Books & Literature

Book Review: Albert Einstein, by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, illustrated by Jean Claude

CHILDREN’S BOOK: In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy bestselling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Albert Einstein, the legendary scientist.

Fascinating biography for kids complete with brilliant illustrations.

The Little People, BIG DREAMS series continues to impress me. Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara has certainly found a winning formula for her books and has also recruited an amazing array of illustrators—each with their own style but all spectacular. Jean Claude has plenty to work with as Einstein is famous for his wild hair and bushy moustache. I especially enjoyed the contrasting images of the tidy and staid Patent Office, Einstein’s original workplace, and his room at home wallpapered with his all his ideas and calculations!

Most of us will have heard of Albert Einstein and his famous equation Ɛ = mc², but I wasn’t aware he was four years old before he spoke and so his only friend was his younger sister Maja. Young Albert had problems at school because he was messy and disorganised but also because his brain was so full of his own ideas and theories that he published his first scientific paper in his teens. There is a wonderful double-page illustration showing his confused and/or exasperated parents in the doorway of the young genius’ room gazing at the scientific and mathematical calculations with which their son has effectively wallpapered his room.

Short sentences and clear language are ideal for child readers, but I don’t know many four-year-old children who could read or understand the text unaided and I think it is better suited to the top of the age range of seven or so years old. Obviously, the biography is condensed but the author manages to include other important aspects of Einstein’s life—not just science.

Having won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1921, Einstein was famous around the world. However, as a Jew, Einstein was well aware of the racist beliefs spreading through Germany leading up to WWII. He used his fame and influence to encourage foreign universities to hire Jewish scholars which then allowed them to the leave the country. The Einstein family left in 1933 and Albert never returned, becoming an American citizen.

His efforts to promote equality and justice continued for the rest of his life, particularly on behalf of Black Americans who were so badly treated in their own country. Despite, or perhaps even because of, the fact that his work contributed to making nuclear weapons possible, Einstein refused to work on their development and actively campaigned against them. The last page of the book reminds readers to celebrate difference as we all have different talents with as many different ways of expressing them.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Distributed by: Murdoch Books
Released: September 2021
RRP: $19.99

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

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