I recently read two delightful examples back to back: On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky and The Pilot and the little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery by Peter Sis.
Radinsky's exuberant illustrations in On a Beam of Light radiate joyful energy. His black ink lines are expressively untidy and the rich gouache colours do not stay neatly inside the lines. The paper is light brown, speckled with fibers, giving it a homespun look.
|Important lines of text are highlighted in red. (On a Beam of Light. Berne & Radunsky)|
Berne has selected details about Einstein's life that will make the most impression on children. For example, when Einstein grew up, he chose specific clothes for thinking. He refused to ever wear socks. Einstein never spoke before age two, and hardly said a word before age three. When he did finally speak, he was full of questions.
"So many questions that some of his teachers told him he was a disruption to his class. They said he would never amount to anything unless he learned to behave like all the other students.
But Albert didn't want to be like the other students.
He wanted to discover the hidden mysteries in the world."
Readers can go on to discover more about Einstein through Berne's notes and resource list at the end.
Even though Peter Sis has a very different style from Radunsky, I was struck by the way they both showed their subjects as babies, floating in space:
|Baby Einstein (On a Beam of Light. Berne & Radunsky)|
|Baby Saint-Exupery (The Pilot and the Little Prince. Sis)|
|Young Saint-Exupery attempted to fly with his bicycle. (detail from The Pilot and the Little Prince. Sis)|
Peter Sis has written and illustrated many more wonderful books, including The Tree of Life (about Charles Darwin); Starry Messenger (about Galileo); and The Wall, his autobiography about growing up in Czechoslovakia. I've previously reviewed his retelling of a thirteenth-century Persian poem, The Conference of Birds.