BOOK: Author uses pictures to tell Galileo’s story“Only the trouble is interesting,” said Bonnie Christensen during a mentoring session with me last fall.
By: Jean Patrick, The Daily Republic
“Only the trouble is interesting,” said Bonnie Christensen during a mentoring session with me last fall.
Christensen follows her own advice in “I, Galileo,” a new picture book biography about the inventor and astronomer who lived more than four centuries ago.
Written in first person, Christensen creatively allows Galileo to tell his own story. As a child, he watched the shadows change throughout the day and learned from his father the importance of asking questions to search for the truth.
But trouble came when Galileo refused to wear the heavy gowns when he taught at a university. More trouble came when he challenged one of Aristotle’s “sacred laws of physics.” When he dropped a couple of cannonballs off the leaning tower in Pisa, he proved that a heavier object does not fall faster than a lighter object.
This was just the beginning. Using his newly-developed telescope, Galileo found evidence to support Copernicus’ controversial theory — that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the known universe.
Of course, this brought on more trouble, especially with the Catholic Church. After ruling that his sun-centered theory was heresy, leaders imprisoned him within the walls of his home where he lived until the end of his life.
Christensen uses deep and vibrant colors, reflecting the vitality of Galileo’s ideas. Occasionally, she frames her illustrations in a circle, as if readers are viewing scenes through a telescope. Ironically, the most vivid telescopic view is not of the heavens, but of his trial for heresy.
Christensen’s illustrations also show renditions of Galileo’s sketches, including his observation of the movement of sunspots. These sketches allow readers to understand Galileo’s questions and the basis for his theories.
The four pages of endnotes are also impressive. Instead of being weighty and voluminous (as the subject matter could demand), Christensen succinctly presents a timeline and brief descriptions of his major inventions, experiments and discoveries. She also includes a brief glossary, a bibliography and websites.
“I, Galileo” effectively introduces readers to the excitement and consequences of introducing new ideas.