Isaac Newton-Giants of Science

Jacket-10

  • Biography related title
  • Age Range: Grades 5-8
  • Author: Kathleen Krull, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov
  • Title: Isaac Newton
  • Publisher: New York : Viking
  • 2006
  • 126 pages.
  • ISBN: 978-0-670-05921-8
  • Awards: BCCB Blue Ribbon~School Library Journal Best Book~A Booklist “Top 10 Youth Biography”~ALA Notable Book for Children~Finalist for the Cybils, the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award~A Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year
  • Author’s website: http://www.kathleenkrull.com/

Arguably Isaac Newton is the most influential scientist ever. In lively and anecdotal prose Krull explains and contextualizes Newton’s massive scientific contributions and illuminates his prickly and often vindictive personality. Wry pen and ink illustrations compliment this irreverent treatment.

Krull’s Giant’s of Science series sets a high bar for entertaining and informative biographies. Her conversational and assured tone carries the reader along as she explains the personalities and scientific accomplishments of these fascinating and influential individuals; her Isaac Newton is no exception. While most of her unflattering observations are well supported by facts included in the text, some of her more speculative topics: his sexual orientation, mental illness and religious beliefs, suffer from a treatment that feels too glib and condescending. For example can it really be right to refer to the man who elucidated the scientific method, developed calculus, the reflecting telescope, the laws of motion, the theory of gravity and of optics as “several slices short of a loaf.” While Krull does provide a bibliography, her lack of source notes combined with her sensationalist speculations diminishes her otherwise excellent and valuable book.

Front matter includes acknowledgments for research help and contents. Back matter includes a bibliography that highlights books and articles suitable for young readers, websites and an index. The lack of source notes, quotation sources or even an annotated biography is a real flaw in an otherwise outstanding, and highly readable, biography.

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