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On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein Hardcover – April 23, 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It’s not easy to explain the work of Albert Einstein to a young audience, but this marvelous book pulls it off. It does so by providing an overview of Einstein’s life: the way he thought and how his remarkable ideas changed the way scientists think. Berne begins with baby Albert, who didn’t say a word. And as he got older, he didn’t say a word—but he looked and wondered. When he was a student, his teachers thought he was too different, but his differences led him to think about natural phenomenon like light and numbers in new ways. The book reroutes the text around events in Einstein’s life, such as his escape from Nazi Germany and his move to the U.S., and it only touches upon his work on the nuclear bomb. This is a more personal look, but still, it explains how he came to the discovery of atoms and his theories about the speed of light. The text could not have better support than Radunsky’s artwork. Executed on textured papers, the stylized watercolors outlined in ink sometimes eschew decoration, with the focus on Einstein and others in his life; other spreads are swirled with words and numbers. The book stresses that readers may someday answer the questions that Einstein didn’t get to, and an author’s note extends the text with paragraphs about Einstein’s pacifism, personality, and thought experiments. A book as special as its subject. Grades 1-3. --Ilene Cooper

Review

"Remarkable." - Mamarama, Redbook's Mom Blog Council

"A book as special as its subject." - Booklist, starred review

"A celebration of curiosity."--Design Mom

"A delight for the sense... this elegant new picture book might just be that physical gift to spur on the next generation of wonderers." - Out With the Kids

"A delightful book and I would use it in my classroom." - Marilyn Cook, PreK-5 teacher, NSTA National Science Teachers Association Reccomends

"A delightful young readers' introduction to several of Einstein's amazing ideas-and an equally valuable celebration of the advantages of being different." -Bob Berman, science author and columnist, Astronomy Magazine

"A great read about a great man." - Walking Brain Cells

"Richly imagined, beautifully designed, impressionistic biography." - School Library Journal, starred review

"Simply voiced, with word choices and illustrations as exciting as the subject."--Herald-Sun Best Books of 2013

"Something of an It Gets Better Project for mathematically precocious children."--The New York Times

"Sure to captivate young readers." - ReaderKidz

"This is the best way to humanize such a larger-than-life historical figure." -- North Adams Transcript

"Truly amazing." - The Horn Book, starred review

"Utterly charming."-The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Whimsical and illuminating, this beautifully illustrated picture-book biography accomplishes a daunting task: to introduce the life and work of Albert Einstein to young readers."--Book Links, 2013 Lasting Connections

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Booklist Top Ten Science Book of 2013

Columbus Dispatch The Best of the Best of the Year

Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Books of the Year

New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2013

New York Times Editor's Choice

School Library Journal Best Books of the Year

"A splendid introduction to a man who never stopped questioning." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"A perfect introduction to the famous physicist."-Science Books and Films

"An ingenious portrait of genius." - The San Francisco Chronicle

"Awakens a sense of curiosity and mystery in youngsters... an invitation to children to awaken their imaginations." - Shelf Awareness for Readers

"By celebrating Einstein's wonderful curiosity, this book will inspire young kids to find science fascinating." -Walter Isaacson, author, Einstein: His Life and Universe

"Don't miss this book. " - Kid Lit Frenzy

"Einstein positively glows, radiating love and intelligence."-The Washington Post

"Einstein's lifelong curiosity sings through every page."-Publishers Weekly, starred review

"I was wowed by this book."--Robin Smith, The Horn Book Blog

"It's impossible not to be inspired, not only by Einstein himself but also by this dazzling account of his life and imagination."--BookPage

"It's not easy to explain Einstein to young readers, but this terrific book pulls it off."--Bookist Top 10 Biographies for Youth

"Makes genius Albert Einstein seem accessible." - Nerdy Book Club

"On a Beam of Light reminds us that imagination is important, and that thinking is valuable. A great message for the little scientist in your life!" - Emily, bookseller, Hooray for Books!
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811872351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811872355
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.5 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
My precocious five year old read this aloud to herself and her little brother(after some convincing from the that she would actually like it, since it wasn't about princesses) and THOROUGHLY enjoyed it! It was very relatable because it starts out talking about Einstein as a child and gives cute quirky details from his later life (like how he didn't like to wear socks) and progresses on from there. We had recently talked about atoms and how everything was made from them, and it gave some nice examples to illustrate the concept, which is a difficult one for young children to conceptualize. It was also a great lesson about how people eventually use math to make great discoveries (good motivation for persevering and figuring out that stubborn word problem in your homework). It definitely puts all that math homework into perspective.

In general, I would say that this book is appropriate for the third grade and up set in terms of content and readability (there are a few difficult words) but it really is a well-written, beautiful, and simple summary of the life of Albert Einstein. It also has gorgeous illustrations, so it is the whole package. Highly recommend for your budding scientist or mathematician.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My eldest daughter of approximately age 3 loves this text. Being a mathematician, I bought this text as well as The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos. But my very inquisitive daughter loved this text more. And while it breaks my numerical heart to think she may not like mathematics (sniff sniff), this story is very engaging and the artistry is extremely well done. On top of this, she actually asked what else Einstein did during bedtime. I responded by talking about general relativity and she fell asleep. Mission accomplished! So the moral of the story is: book engaging, dad boring.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Young Einstein hardly spoke a word. But he was curious about everything, from the unseen force that pulled on a compass to what it would be like to ride as fast as a beam of light. This beautifully illustrated book has become my five-year old granddaughter's favorite. It made a great "story for all ages" at church, too, in a service on creativity and wonder.
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Format: Hardcover
As a boy, Albert Einstein was not like other children. He talked late, but when he started talking, he asked questions and more questions -- so many questions that he was a disruption in class. But the most amazing things about Albert were his thoughts. He read, he learned, he imagined. And imagined. He grew up, and thought and imagined some more, and he wrote down all his new ideas. Soon other scientists were coming to Albert to learn with him!

This is a rather dreamy book, dreamily illustrated with wispy strokes, muted colors, and dashing sketches in pen and ink. Although written in picture book format, this story is unlikely to appeal to preschoolers. Three-fourths of the book is about Einstein as an adult, and his adult ideas and theories. Small children are attracted to things that they can relate to on their own level. This would be of more interest to 3rd or 4th graders, if they could overlook the childish format.

That being said, there are a few young children who do think on a different level than other children and feel out of place with children their own age. This book could speak to them.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love this little book, beautifully done with great text. I am reviewing it in my column: "About Books" in the 2eNewsletter, an electronic publication for parents and teachers of twice exceptional students (gifted and learning disabled).

Art work is gorgeous -- should be a leading contender for the Caldecott!!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a nice pairing of Jennifer Berne's words and Vladimir Radunsky's illustration. Not only does it tell about Albert Einstein's life from birth to his passing, it has an inspiring quality to it. It encourages the reader to question and investigate. Great for STEM focus.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has become a favorite in our house! While this book is recommended for the 6-9 age group, my 4 year old gets a kick out of it. She doesn't yet understand some of the scientific words and concepts (i.e. atoms, magnetism, etc;) but that doesn't stop her from enjoying the story. What I love about this book is that it's based on a real person and true events - finally, a children's book that's not based on farm animals! It starts out by detailing how little Albert didn't talk much when he was a child, was mischievous in class and getting in trouble and didn't relate well to the other children. It then goes into his career - how he wanted to be a teacher but ended up working in a government office. Eventually, the book talks about Albert's ideas and recognition. You also learn about Albert's quirks - how he didn't like to wear socks, enjoyed ice cream and the violin and liked to wear the same baggy clothes. Unfortunately, it does talk about his smoking pipe which I had to explain to my daughter - I turned that into a lesson about how smoking is bad for you but it was something they used to do in Albert's time because they didn't know any better!

The hardcover version is definitely sturdier but the new paperback version holds up well. I do wish that they didn't put the font in a red color on some pages - it's hard to see with the background color.
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