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ODD BOY OUT by Don Brown Kirkus Star


The Story of the Young Albert Einstein

by Don Brown & illustrated by Don Brown

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2004
ISBN: 0-618-49298-4
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

From his birth in Ulm—a spread of rooftops with one speech bubble: “Waaaaaa”—to his early adulthood, Einstein’s childhood and youth are humanely and humorously depicted. As the title indicates, the narrative focuses on its subject’s oddness, describing both his outbursts of anger and his capacity for single-minded concentration. Einstein emerges as a singular boy, one whose brilliance was masked by poor performance in school. There is no real attempt to explain Einstein’s theorems, delivering just enough to serve as an introduction for primary graders. Illustrations are mostly classic Brown: loose ink-and-watercolor cartoons in a muted palette emphasize Einstein as a lone, brooding figure. Two remarkable illustrations, however, give the reader a glimpse into Einstein’s brain: first, a tiny Einstein gazes up at a swirling array of geometric shapes—“a wonderwork to him”—and second, Einstein pushes a pram against a surreal backdrop that conceptually joins the structure of the atom to the warping of space and time. Kids won’t need to understand relativity to appreciate Einstein’s passage from lonely oddball to breathtaking genius. An author’s note and bibliography fill out this terrific package. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)