Through the Eyes of a Child - History's Greatest Scientific Minds
The two books I've read are One Beetle Too Many by Kathryn Lasky and I, Galileo by Bonnie Christensen. The style of the two books differs greatly, and the approach to teaching children about the world's greatest thinkers couldn't be more different. Whereas one book struggled to keep me entertained, the other was refreshing, thought-provoking, and interesting.
To start, there is a huge difference in the amount of time it takes to read either book. In the case of One Beetle Too Many, I found it to be dreadfully long for a children's book, with pages presented as walls of text. The number of pages in the book would have been daunting, as well, especially if every page is like "Anatomy, Theology, and Botany" or "Butterflies and Gauchos". As a child, I would have found it difficult to focus with so much text. The art is imaginative, although some pages have a serious lack of color. It is the type of book that, as a kid, I wouldn't have read for fun, but rather to simply learn about Darwin and perhaps do an assignment.
I, Galileo, however, was just the right length and lacked the walls of text that are found in One Beetle Too Many. Not only are there fewer pages than in the Darwin book, but each page has less text. Although it could be said that the book has less detail, it does a great job of summarizing and focusing on the most important aspects of Galileo's life, such as the invention of the telescope (and microscope, apparently), the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and so on. Also, the illustrations in the book go a long way toward helping tell the story, as well as being colorful and vibrant.
However, both books do a great job of humanizing Darwin and Galileo respectively. They both describe them as vibrant spirits in their youth, and give fun anecdotes to help the reader relate to the subject of the book. This can best be seen with Darwin's pole-vaulting experience. Galileo's book has him doing experiments with gravity, such as the bowling ball experiment, which the reader can replicate and learn from. In these ways, the books engage the young readers and help them to learn and understand in the same ways that Galileo and Darwin once did. Conclusively, although it is important to help the reader grasp the important aspects of a subject's life, it is crucial to do so while also keeping the reader interested and educated.
If I were to write a children's book, I would write one in the same way that I, Galileo was written, as it engages the reader, helps them understand scientific principles, teaches them about the important aspects of Galileo's life, and keeps them entertained without making them read long paragraphs. I, Galileo does a great job of summarizing key points, and although One Beetle Too Many does a better job helping the reader relate to its character, I, Galileo does a better job of teaching children, in my opinion.