From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6–This attractive picture-book biography includes many interesting facts about this fascinating 16th-century scientist. The author sketches Copernicus's childhood, his education in Poland, and his work as a clergyman and physician. However, the focus of the book is on the scholar's passion for astronomy and his rediscovery–after studying the works of the ancient Greeks–of the idea that the Earth is not the center of the universe but a planet orbiting the Sun. The writing of his masterpiece, Concerning the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
, is also described. (However, the author's statement that this work "was one of the most important books ever written" is perhaps a little generous.) The text is beautifully supported by dramatic oil-on-gesso artwork. Some of the paintings depict the astronomer's life, but others illustrate the scientific concepts mentioned in the narrative. Von Buhler's style suggests the muted colors and two-dimensional quality of late-medieval illustration. Fradin's depiction of his subject is idealized but he mostly resists the temptation to fictionalize. This is a useful and accessible introduction to Copernicus's life and works, but the facts and details are too scant for reports. For that purpose, Catherine M. Andronik's Copernicus: Founder of Modern Astronomy
(Enslow, 2002) offers more information.–Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
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Gr. 3-6. This handsome, if brief, biography of Copernicus introduces the man and his work on the heliocentric theory, for which he is best remembered. Fradin does a good job of explaining how Copernicus came to accept the notion that the planets revolve around the Sun and why it was such a revolutionary and dangerous idea to hold. Though this fully illustrated book might appear to be for younger children, middle-grade readers will be better equipped to make sense of the astronomy and the historical context. The oil paintings are handsome and also effective in creating a sense of Copernicus' life in Poland in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. On some pages, however, the art seems to overwhelm the text, particularly when the paint-textured backgrounds make reading a bit difficult. On the best double-page spreads, though, the words stand out clearly, the large pictures on the facing pages illuminate the story and scientific concepts, and smaller, decorative pictures unify the text and art. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved