The last of the magicians: Sir Isaac Newton.
In the middle of the 17th century, in a Puritan England full of mystery and magic, Newton grew up over an apothecary shop, studied alchemy and the world around him, went to Cambridge, taught himself mathematics, and deduced the laws of motion that underlie our understanding of the physical world. Losure has created a compellingly readable biography of the father of modern physics and “greatest alchemist who ever lived,” starting, appropriately for her audience, with his lonely childhood. She pieces together bits of information from his notebooks, from his biographers, old and new, and from social history to create a plausible character and bring readers into his world. Her Newton is bookish and curious about the world around him, mostly self-taught, reclusive and secretive about his discoveries—not only his efforts to create a “philosopher’s stone,” but also his observations about light (after they were scorned by another scientist), his invention of calculus, and his laws of motion. Much about Newton’s life has to be conjecture, but the author adds details from history and from her understanding of human behavior that make this splendid story both convincing and accessible to her readers. Illustrations, engravings from the time and pages from his notes, and interesting afterwords add to the appeal.
Narrative nonfiction at its best and most convincing. (acknowledgements, source notes, bibliography, index not seen) (Nonfiction. 10-15)