On a Beam of Light

On a Beam of LightTitle: On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein
Author: Jennifer Berne
Illustrator: Vladimir Radunsky
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2013
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 6-9
Themes: Physicists

Opening Lines:

Over 100 years ago, as the stars swirled in the sky, as the Earth circled the sun, as the March winds blew through a little town by a river, a baby boy was born. His parents named him Albert.

Synopsis (from Chronicle website):

A boy rides a bicycle down a dusty road. But in his mind, he envisions himself traveling at a speed beyond imagining, on a beam of light. This brilliant mind will one day offer up some of the most revolutionary ideas ever conceived. From a boy endlessly fascinated by the wonders around him, Albert Einstein ultimately grows into a man of genius recognized the world over for profoundly illuminating our understanding of the universe.

Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky invite the reader to travel along with Einstein on a journey full of curiosity, laughter, and scientific discovery. Parents and children alike will appreciate this moving story of the powerful difference imagination can make in any life.


Young Kids:

Discovery Station – Compass and magnet games. Good for preschoolers – 2nd grade.
The Why Files – Einstein’s theories are presented in a simple and straightforward manner. The site includes articles about the speed of light, gravity, black holes, and space-time. Recommended for 4-6th grade students.

For Teens & Adults:

Einstein: Image & Impact – Explores Einstein’s life through historical accounts, photographs and sound clips by the American Institute of Physics.
Einstein Archives Online – Comprehensive information about Einstein’s life. Digitized manuscripts.

Why I Like This Book:

When I first heard of this book, I was like I HAVE to read it. I mean it’s about Einstein!!  Then I was like wait it’s about Einstein … there is so much to cover and a lot of it is theoretical physics. How in the world is the author going to discuss that in a picture book, it seemed like a very daunting task to me. But I had faith since this book was written by one of my favorite authors Jennifer Berne (Manfish, Calvin Can’t Fly). Ms. Berne DELIVERED on writing a book that is informative and captivating and sure to engage scientists young and old.

Kids will be engaged from the beginning when they learn Einstein didn’t talk until he was three, or that he loved to asks questions all the time much to the chagrin of his teachers. Kids will learn that Einstein was always wondering about the world around him, whether it be about a beam of light or how sugar melts in tea. It was this inquisitiveness that propelled Einstein to keep learning and questioning and eventually discovering some of nature’s secrets.

The illustrations are quirky and whimsical, appropriate for describing Einstein and his eccentricities. I particularly enjoyed the spread discussing atoms where the illustrator use “dots” to color in the pictures instead of a solid color. See illustrations from the book at Chronicle’s website.

The endpages contain additional information on Einstein’s theories, personality, and pacifism.

This book can be used in elementary science classrooms.

Check-out these other great reviews.

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher Chronicle Books. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

I have a special treat this time. I have an extra copy of this book that I will be giving away. Leave a comment by May 16th 9pm PST for a chance to win.

69 Comments to “On a Beam of Light”

  1. My son loves non-fiction pbs and who better to read about than Einstein. He’ll love those magnet activities. I’ll look out for this. Thanks, Darshana.

  2. Thanks for a great review of a very interesting-looking book, Darshana! I saw a review of this on another blog recently and have been dying to read it. I know Jennifer Berne, and she write amazing books! I’m glad to be adding this one to the PPBF list!

    • You know Jennifer, very cool! Kid Lit Reviews did a great review of the book, I have link to it in the post. Sorry I haven’t been able to contribute regularly to PPBF. I have been getting more writing done in the meantime.

  3. Everyone who reviews this book loves it! I enjoyed Manfish but haven’t got a hold of this one yet.

  4. Haven’t found this at the library, so will add it to the ‘wish list’ for my nephews. Thanks for introducing me to a new book!

  5. I love PBs of real people who made a difference in our world. Thanks for sharing this one!

  6. I can tell this is a winner as someone reviewed it a couple of weeks back on PPBF. I really do need to get my hands on it.

  7. This book is so beautifully illustrated. For anyone who wants a copy, I saw it on sale through Daedalus books last week, if they have any left.

  8. I always forget to check out the non-fiction books when I’m at the library! I will try to find this. Thanks, Darshana. I like the header on your page, BTW.

    • Thanks Laura. This book just released a few weeks ago so you might need to be patient with your library. Mine is usually pretty slow at acquiring new releases.

  9. What a great idea for a kids book! I love the fact that it will help kids, and adults, to understand that just because someone might not excel in one area doesn’t mean that they aren’t, or won’t be, brilliant in another. Wilma Rudolph couldn’t even walk as a child but went on to be an accomplished runner and Olympic champion. And mute little Albert turned out to be Einstein… 🙂

  10. Einstein’s life is a fascinating study. Who better to inspire children to greatness. I definitely have to check this one out!

  11. New to me – thanks – looks terrific and your review puts it right on the top of my list!

  12. Thanks for this review – my seven year old daughter is currently doing a science (physics and movement, cause and effect) unit at School. They have a project each term and they do lots of different work around the central theme being the physics of movement. This would be a great book to share with her. She came home the other day telling me how a bike moved and why we sometimes fall off when we go to slowly, I loved her interpretation of what she was learning at school.

    • Thank you for sharing your daughter’s experience. It is so wonderful to kids when their innocence meets discovery. I still remember my 7yr old rattling on about electricity and magnetism. I hope your daughter enjoys the book.

  13. Very interesting book, and would be great for my nephews…. Great for school projects, this kind of book. Thank you for sharing Darshana.

  14. My very curious almost 5 year old has been asking all kinds of questions about all things science and math-related. I’m excited to share my knowledge with him as well as learn more alongside him. Looking forward to sharing this book as well, thanks for letting us know about it!

  15. I have agreed to review this book, but the publisher never sent it. Hmm… I love Einstein. 🙂 I am going to get a copy!

  16. My kiddos love to read! They would love this book (as would I!) Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  17. Looks like a great book,and I love your list of activities!

  18. I must read this book. You hooked me with your discussion. Great review!

  19. Nice review – glad to find your blog!

  20. I love love love kids books about famous people…especially when they show some of the childhood of that person. 🙂 This book looks like a winner, Darshana…I’d love to win a copy for my twin grandchildren who are seven and a half. Great review and resources. And glad to see you back…but your writing is super important…it is hard to balance home, family, job, blog AND writing. 🙂

  21. I would love to read this with my budding scientist!

  22. Oooh, would love to win this…my kids love books and I appreciate the thorough review!

  23. Thanks for this review! Especially great for May since it’s Jewish American Heritage Month 🙂

  24. Love this recommendation, Darshana and how fun to replicate some of his theories and experiments. Einstein was a fascinating personality, wasn’t he? Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

    Be sure to check out our Kid Lit Question of the Day. This week we are talking about the category of books, YA.


  25. This book sounds wonderful! I’m putting it on hold at the library right now! Thanks for the recommendation!

  26. My reaction when I first saw this title was almost identical to yours: “When I first heard of this book, I was like I HAVE to read it. I mean it’s about Einstein!! Then I was like wait it’s about Einstein …” but now I REALLY want to read it, knowing that it does manage to pull of a pretty amazing feat.

  27. Dropped by from the kid lit blog hop, and love this review and the extension activities included. I love introducing my kids,(and myself) to those who have made such a contribution to our society through picture books. Thanks again for the great review, am glad to have been introduced to your blog, and will be following along.

  28. Great review, and I’ll have to read it now – I didn’t know Einstein didn’t talk until 3? Also, those illustrations look beautiful. I love the activities you added as well.

  29. Thanks for sharing this on Kid Lit Blog Hop! We recently read this book too and LOVED it! 🙂 Its so well written and illustrated. I wont be surprised if it were to receive an award! I had previosuly looked for a book on Einstein in kid lit section and was very disappointed with what I found. This one knocked the ball out of the park 🙂

  30. Wow, I was just going to ask if you knew of anyplace I could win this book, and then I saw your special comment. That’s fantastic! We would love to win one. Max definitely has a questioning nature. In fact, sometimes he asks the same question over and over again if he doesn’t like my answer! Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop, and thanks for the giveaway. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Max and I win!

    • Thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately the giveaway ended on May 16th. Sorry. Given its a new book I am sure there will be other bloggers that will be doing giveaways. If not make a recommendation to your library to purchase it. Ours has a link of their website for such requests.

    • Wow, check out how I don’t know what month it is 😉 I will look and recommend!

  31. Thanks so much for sharing this story. One to recommend to my daughter who teaches 6th grade. Thanks for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop! Cheryl, Hop Hostess

  32. I am in love with this just from your post. I had never heard of this before.
    Thank you for sharing. I’m hopping along the kid lit blog hop and just followed you via twitter.

  33. Found you through the Kid Lit Blog Hop. I love the sound of this book – thank you for the review. And I must get it for my son who also never stops asking questions too.

  34. Oh yes – I’m glad you linked this into the Kid Lit Blog Hop. It’s a great recommendation! 🙂

  35. Thanks for the great recommendation and activity suggestions. This is one I definitely need to check out.

    Geo Librarian
    Kid Lit Blog Hop

  36. I ordered this book thanks to your review. It’s wonderful. The best was when a third way through reading the book, my 5 1/2 year old son jumped up and demonstrated how if he drops a ball from high up it falls much faster than if he let it go near the ground.

  37. This looks wonderful. I can’t wait to find a copy, it’s going straight on my to-read list. Thanks for sharing the activities too. I think my kids would love exploring magnets (other than on taking them on and off the fridge)

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