Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Ask Albert Einstein

Ask Albert Einstein

Fall 2005 Picture Books
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Lynne Barasch
Illustrator: Lynne Barasch
ISBN: 0-374-30435-1
Hardcover Price: $16.00
The plot sounds like a sweet, heartwarming story worthy of a family sitcom: A frustrated schoolgirl writes to one of history's most brilliant minds for help with a tough homework assignment, and he kindly responds, giving her just enough of a nudge that she is able to figure the answer out herself. Incredibly, that's what actually happened in the spring of 1952, when a fifteen-year-old high school student requested math help from none other than Albert Einstein. Einstein, who was famously modest and good-natured, graciously answered her letter, and the correspondence became the subject of a front-page story in The New York Times. Lynne Barasch fictionalizes some of the details in her picture-book version of the story, but the end result is no less enjoyable. Here, a little girl writes to the scientist on behalf of her older sister, with the two girls' increasing anxiety juxtaposed against scenes of Einstein at work (and, more often, at play). Barasch's charming ink and watercolor illustrations are both cheery and simple-two qualities Einstein himself valued, as evidenced by the quotations scattered across the book's endpapers. The story will naturally appeal to math and science buffs and Einstein fans, but it's eminently relevant and applicable to anyone who has ever faced some truly daunting homework-and got just the right push to find the answer within.
Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2005 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.

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