From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–Another wonderful addition to the series, detailing common knowledge and little-known facts about historical figures. Krull asks the question, “What were these men and women like as human beings–in the laboratory and out of it?” She answers it well, giving a multifaceted picture of 20 scientists' personal lives and professional accomplishments, though more information about some of the lesser-known individuals might have provided a better idea of their work. Readers learn about great discovery and great quirkiness. James D. Watson and Francis Crick figured out the structure of DNA, but apparently Watson was in it just to meet girls. Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity but described his good friend Marie Curie as “not attractive enough to represent a danger to anyone” when she became enamored of a married man. Edwin Hubble had a passion for the stars but had the obnoxious habit of trying to sound smarter than his guests by wowing them with obscure information he looked up in an encyclopedia before parties. A strong point of this volume is the inclusion of some important women (Barbara McClintock and Grace Murray Hopper, for example) who aren't often mentioned in biographies of this type. The oil paint illustrations are whimsical and fun and break up the text, making the amount of information more manageable. This estimable introduction to a variety of scientists will also appeal to fans of irreverent history who aren't quite ready for Georgia Bragg's macabre How They Croaked (Walker, 2011).–Trina Bolfing, Westbank Libraries, Austin, TXα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This latest in the Lives of . . . series is summed up by the subtitle’s What the Neighbors Thought. The authors delve into intriguing, obscure, and peculiar facts about 20 famous scientists from all fields of study, regions of the globe, and eras of history. Even with the brevity of each biography, the authors manage to paint an honest and multidimensional portrait of each individual. The real people behind infamous discoveries include one who could write while at a full gallop on horseback, some who were arrested for not wavering from their beliefs, others who were born to slaves and peasants, and several who were disliked by their teachers. Women are well represented, including Grace Murray Hopper, named the first Computer Science Man of the Year. As in each edition of the series, Hewitt’s highly caricaturized illustrations enhance the engaging narratives. This collective biography is perfectly suited to thematic research as well as to reading for pleasure. Grades 4-7. --Erin Anderson