You have heard about scientists who were artists. In some of earlier posts, I have talked about collaborative efforts between artists and scientists. For example, the book Periodic Table presented scientific knowledge accompanied by beautiful graphic illustrations. Likewise, I talked about scenes from the movie 15 Park Avenue, which depicted struggles in the life of a physics professor.
Today I am telling you about yet another work of art — a book created by an artist who had studied science till the school education level (according to the biography given in the book). The book is titled Bright Dreams: The Brilliant Ideas of Nikola Tesla by Tracy Dockray. I have never been more pleasantly surprised by any book before. With every turn of page, a new adventure was waiting for me. First let me describe the book for you.
The book narrates the life, struggles and achievements of Nicola Tesla, one of the greatest physicists who ever walked on this planet. Yet, he remains largely an unsung hero. Ask anyone down the road, and most likely they have heard of Edison. But Tesla? Nope. This is in spite of the fact that the world would not be what it is today had this man not been there. But I am perhaps underestimating him. It is not his existence or his work that makes him outstanding. Of course, you might argue that if not him then somebody else would have invented the alternating current. But if you just throw a cursory glance at what he went through, what he was made to go through, how he persevered, struggled, fought, then all his heroism shines in full glory — something that would definitely put the brightest stars to shame. No, I am not exaggerating. Honestly speaking, I cannot show similar endurance to so much hostility.
The first impression I formed of the book was that it was written by a science writer or educator with help from an illustrator. I was wrong. All the work — description, narration, and illustration — everything is done by artist Tracy Dockray. This seemingly simple act itself deserves heavy applause. It must have definitely involved reading and browsing a lot, and talking to several people before such a creative piece of work could be brought out. It might have been easier for a scientist, but the extra trouble taken by an artist itself shows her concern and appreciation of the physicist and science in general.
As you might have already guessed, the book is made up of graphical illustrations in bright colours, with text presented in the form of comic strip. But note that there are neither silly comic characters nor caricatures. All figures are graphical illustrations which would appeal to children, especially those in the age group 8 – 11 years.
Though the length of the book is very short at 32 pages, the time your children take to go through it depends on how they make use of it. They may finish it within half an hour, or may be over several days. However, I would suggest that instead of giving it to your children to read, it would be better if you sit together with your children, turning pages, reading, narrating and explaining things to them. First the story part — how Nicola got electric shock, what was the world like before he was born and so on. Children would keep asking questions and doubts, especially about the technical terms. These could be explained with the help of the side notes — what is direct current, what is alternating current, who was Edison and so on. The narration is sometimes poetic, and these would help in imparting real life lessons to your children. At the end of the book you will find a glossary of selected scientific terms, a chronological timeline of Tesla’s life, bibliography and resources for further reading.
I could not find any flaws. Though it does not mention or promise anything of the sort, in all sincerity I suggest several other scientist biographies in the same style to follow this book. Very good work.
Author and Illustrator: Tracy Dockray
Publisher: Capstone Editions (August 1, 2020)
Print Length: 32 pages
Price (Paperback): $18.95
What does it mean?