In the latter half of the 17th century, Antony van Leeuwenhoek devised his first microscope by cleverly grinding a bit of glass into a near-spherical shape and mounting it into his own custom-made frame.
It would change his world. By grinding his lenses nearly round, he stumbled upon the secret to creating a substantially more powerful microscope than the few then currently in use. With his ability to take a clear look into the microscopic world, he became the first to identify microbes, organisms far too small to be viewed with the naked eye. Although other scientists initially rejected the concept—and he was unwilling to share his microscope design to help them make their own discoveries—an English scientist was later able to replicate his work using his less-sophisticated microscope. Still, Antony’s groundbreaking studies seemed to spark little enthusiasm in others for further research. It would be well over 100 years later that Louis Pasteur finally realized that some microbes caused disease. As Alexander describes him, “Antony watches patiently, thinks deeply, and reports carefully.” By breaking his work down into simple, understandable steps and incorporating Mildenberger’s delicately childlike cartoon illustrations to complement the present-tense narration, this effort makes Antony’s life’s work accessible to a young audience that is sure to be intrigued and inspired. Excellent backmatter rounds out this fascinating tale.
Methodical young scientists will see themselves in the “Father of Microbiology.” (Biography. 8-11)