True Tales of Childhood from Science Superstars
by David Stabler, illustrations by Anoosha Syed
c.2018, Quirk Books
$13.95 / $15.95 Canada
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor
Your room is a great big mess.
At least that’s what your mother says but you know your room
is a work in progress. You have an ongoing experiment here,
an almost-finished one there, and look at what’s in the
terrarium! Your room is your laboratory, Young Scientist, so
read Kid Scientists by David Stabler,
illustrations by Anoosha Syed, and see what your heroes
were like when they were younger.
Gravity, black holes, humane animal control, computers,
electricity, advanced math, can you imagine what life would
be like if you didn’t know about those things? No worries
because you do know, thanks to scientists. But check
this out: once upon a time, those same scientists “were just
ordinary kids” like you.
Katherine Johnson, for instance, happened to like numbers.
When she was small, she counted things obsessively. As a
toddler, she followed her brother to classes and she was so
smart that she started high school at age ten! Later, when
a teacher at a black college said she’d “make a fine
mathematician… that was all she needed to hear.” Johnson
ultimately became one of a small handful of black women to
help NASA put an astronaut on the moon.
Neil deGrasse Tyson was so determined to become an
astrophysicist that he started a dog-walking business to
earn money for a telescope. On a walk through a nearby
forest, Rachael Carson understood the effects of pollution
on the environment; that love of nature led her to become a
published “professional nature writer at the age of
fifteen.” Jane Goodall loved animals so much that she tried
to keep earthworms in her bed (her mother explained why that
wasn’t the greatest idea ever). George Washington Carver
talked to plants when he was a boy; Marie Curie went to
school under Russian control; Nikola Tesla inherited his
love of invention from his mother; Salim Ali reportedly
tried to potty-train a sparrow; and Temple Grandin
discovered that she understood animals’ anxieties because
she was a lot like them.
It’s been said that a child can’t be what a child can’t see.
Fortunately for your budding astrophysicist, inventor,
doctor, environmentalist, or mathematician, Kid
Scientists will open her eyes with mini-bios of
interesting and accomplished people.
But wouldn’t it be boring if that’s all your child got? It
would, which is why there’s more to this book: here, he’ll
learn that his heroes were once kids who did goofy, funny,
slightly naughty things in addition to normal kid
activities. Author David Stabler also lends subtlety to
those tales by quietly indicating that if famous scientists
could have off-beat interests, then maybe no thread of
curiosity is unworthy of exploration. Those are golden words
for a child who marches to a heartbeat, a moonbeam, a pulsed
laser, or the beat of a bird’s wings.
The perfect reader for Kid Scientists is the
eight-to-12-year-old who loves biographical sketches or
longs to explore any branch of science. It’s a book made for
inquisitive minds, and if your kid’s like that, he’ll have
room for it.