Review of Einstein

by Jim Ottaviani; illus. by Jerel Dye; color by Alison Acton
High School    First Second    304 pp.    g
11/22    978-1-62672-876-9    $32.99

This thoroughly researched comic-format account of the world’s most well-known physicist is described by its author as “not so much a biography of Albert Einstein as it is a story about him.” Storytelling liberties such as a nonlinear narrative, invented dialogue, fourth wall–breaking asides (identified by square word balloons), and scenes of a teenage Einstein visualizing his quintessential white-haired self as running along a beam of light are engagingly theatrical. Complicated scientific concepts, including relativity and space time, are imaginatively portrayed at length through a blend of words and pictures. Einstein’s multifaceted personal life is equally examined—including his involvement in geopolitics, experiences of antisemitic attacks, and numerous affairs. Relationships and rivalries with a large cast of world-renowned scientists, from Planck to Curie to Bohr, serve as a constant through line, underscoring the collaborative and competitive nature of early-twentieth-century scientific discourse. Strong cartooning across consistent three-tier page layouts is clear and effective. The hand-inked illustrations are rendered in an undulating black line and muted color palette, punctuated by ethereal blue thought bubbles and visual motifs representing Einstein’s inner life. This nuanced portrayal of the individual behind many of the last century’s greatest discoveries is complex and confounding, much like the man himself. Back matter includes a timeline and whimsical coda regarding Einstein’s death.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Patrick Gall
Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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