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Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein Paperback – June 16, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5–This well-crafted picture-book biography focuses on Einstein's hard-to-classify brilliance, which led to awesome scientific discoveries, but all too often left him a misunderstood outsider. Brown describes his subject's loving, cultured parents who were frequently nonplussed by their son's behavior and temper. He found himself the "odd boy" at school, and as the only Jewish student, was sometimes taunted by other children. He puzzled his instructors as well; though clearly gifted in science, math, and music, he was an indifferent student in most subjects. Brown's pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations, rendered in a palette of dusky mauve and earthy brown, portray a doubtful, somewhat unhappy-looking child, except for a picture in which he gazes fondly at a compass, a gift that astonishes him as he ponders its mysteries. In many scenes he is marginalized on the sidelines, set apart by color and shading. One dramatic spread features an adult Einstein pushing his child in a carriage, looking small against a backdrop that highlights some of the scientific puzzles that so engaged him. Through eloquent narrative and illustration, Brown offers a thoughtful introduction to an enigmatic man. This book will pique the interest of readers with little or no knowledge of Einstein.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-5. Young readers won't come away from Brown's newest picture-book biography understanding the theory of relativity, but they will be heartened by the parallels between their own experiences and those of an iconic science guy. The author-illustrator of Mack Made Movies (2003) and other books presents the future Nobel Prize winner as a sallow, sunken-eyed little boy who lingers on the sidelines as other boys roughhouse, spends hours building a house of cards "fourteen stories high," and vexes his teachers (one tells him that "he would never get anywhere in life"). Brown's language dips into vagueness when it's time to describe the mature scientist's contributions, and the accompanying artwork is often disappointingly generic, awkwardly incorporating computer-generated elements that overwhelm the delicate ink-and-watercolor style used elsewhere. Still, this joins Frida Wishinsky's What's the Matter with Albert? (2002) as one of the very few picture-book biographies of Einstein available. Try giving it to older elementary students, who will get the most out of the detailed author's note and bibliography featuring many books for adults. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (June 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 054701435X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547014357
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Don Brown is the author/illustrator of more than two dozen history books for kids.

He has introduced young readers to the famous, such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Dolly Madison, and the less well known, such as Mary Kingsley, Mary Anning, and Mack Sennett. His books have explored important events such as the Battle of Lexington & Concord, the sinking of the Titanic, and the duel of Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr. AMERICA IS UNDER ATTACK sensitively reviewed the tragic events of September 11th.

Don's books have received numerous starred reviews. He has won many awards including a Horn Book Honor and the William Allen White Award. THE GREAT AMERICAN DUSTBOWL has been nominated for the Texas Blue Bonnet Award, the third time one of Don's books has been honored.

DROWNED CITY is Don's latest book. It is a graphic novel history of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans. It will be published in August 2015 on the tenth anniversary of the disaster.

Don makes presentations to kids around the country.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If every adult biographer has his or her own personal style, why should the case be any different for children's book biographers? And when it comes to picture book biographies, certain names come to mind. David Adler, of course, though his books are so uncommonly dull that I tend to pity the children I hand them to (being a children's librarian and all). Peter Sis, though his bios require a great deal of time and patience to parse. James Rumford to some extent, though "Sequoyah" is probably his best bio to date. No, when it comes down to it Don Brown is the picture book biographer that nine of ten kids prefer every time. I don't have any actual statistics to back that statement up, I just say what I see. And what I see is an author who is able to take unknown heroes (Mary Kingsley, Alice Ramsey, Ruth Law, etc.) and too well-known heroes (Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, etc.) and give them interesting picture book biographies that kids will both relate to and love.

We all know some basic facts about Einstein. He was a guy with a head of white unruly hair. When you yell, "Hey, Einstein!", you are making reference to the fact that he was once a genius. So how much do you know about this great man as a child? In this book, Brown introduces us to Albert from day one (March 14, 1879, to be exact). As a boy, Albert has his good moods and he has his bad moods. In a good mood he can create a house of cards fourteen stories high and ponder the mysteries of a compass for fun. In a bad mood he is prone to hitting his little sister, terrifying his tutor, and getting so upset that his nose turns white. As we watch, Albert is given an amazing amount of freedom. He wanders the Munich streets alone at the age of four. He discovers geometry with the help of a friendly medical student.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Care on September 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some very smart kids just don't fit in the classroom. They learn differently. This book assures those kids that they are not "weird", but just might need to learn lessons differently. Unfortunately, most state educational programs do NOT address these needs.

Hopefully, these different-learning kids will learn to accept themselves rather than to succumb to any titles that may be assigned to them, ie, slow learner.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Russo on December 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein

Great story for most children but especially for the child who deems himself out of sync with his classmates. Young Albert proves the point that we all have something to offer, faults in all.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ulyyf on February 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What ARE you going to say about Einstein that'll fit in a picture book for the 4 - 8 crowd?

Quite a lot, apparently. Like many children, young Albert (and this book does focus mainly on his youth) never fit in. The other children liked sports, and watching soldiers on parades; he didn't. Other children talked and cooed at two; he didn't. Other children answered questions quickly in class, and bothered with the classes they didn't like, and socialized at parties... not so Albert.

The author covers Einstein's childhood admirably (I especially recommend this book to autistic/aspie children, who may readily see aspects of themselves in his behavior. This does *not* mean I necessarily agree with the hypothesis that Einstein was on the spectrum, just that it may be a useful book for kids on the spectrum), and then rapidly sums up his adult accomplishments without going into too much detail. Quotations from Einstein on himself, or from other people about him, are used to great effect to help make his personality more vivid.

One thing about this book, it's a bit awkward as a readaloud. It's a longer book, for one, and also, it's written in the historical present. Reading about events over 100 years ago in the present tense... well, I suggest if you're going to read this book aloud that you do a quick read-through first to make sure you don't slip-up midsentence. That just sounds awkward.

Please note that this book is definitely not going to teach your children the theory of relativity :) If you want a more science-y book for children, this isn't it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ohioan on June 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book on the young Albert Einstein is filled with fascinating bits of information that make the subject, young Albert, come alive. The art works exceptionally well with the story, capturing the oddity and out-of-place-ness of somebody who is radically different from those around him: in this case, because he's a genius. Still, there's something missing: we learn that Einstein excelled in math and physics, but we never enter his mind to see his thoughts. (Perhaps this isn't possible with a genius, but it leaves me feeling there's something missing in the story.) We are told that E=mc2 is the theory of relativity and then we're told that thanks to Einstein somehow we get automatic door openers, television, and space travel. There's a huge gap between those sentences, a gap that perhaps should be filled with a bit more explanation. Nevertheless, a fascinating story and a book worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this book for my son because he has Pervasive Developmental Disorder, he has a hard time fitting in at school and knows he's different. I wanted him to be able to relate to someone he looks up to. He likes learning about Albert Einstein and is always asking me questions about Albert Einsten, so when I found out there was a book for children who are like him I knew I had to purchase this book.
It is made for younger readers, my son is 12 but he is a very immature 12 and hates reading chapter books with no pictures so this worked out.
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