My First Book of Relativity

My First Book of Relativity
Sheddad Kaid-Salah Ferrón and Eduard Altarriba
Button Books

We had My First Book of Quantum Physics and now for a companion volume, its creators have turned their attention to another potentially complex science topic, that of relativity.

However, in the hands of this partnership, Einstein’s theory of relativity and other related aspects of connections between space and time are explained in such a way as to make them accessible to young readers. For, as it says on the back of this book, ‘it’s never too early to start exploring big ideas.’ So, how does one start?

The space-time theory, we read, can only be properly understood by first understanding what the two concepts mean in themselves; and then we’re in a position (like Einstein) to understand ‘the world through relativity’.

Time is succinctly explored – how it’s measured, by what means and the various units used.

Speed,

movement and the vital importance of frames of reference are explained, the latter using the example of a moving train and then a person in space.

There are spreads on adding up speeds and the speed of light, leading into Einstein’s two theories, special relativity and general relativity (his theory about gravity).

I love the ‘thought experiments’ relating to time dilation and clocks; and the wonderful spread whereon ten year old Alice travels to our nearest star Proxima Centauri, leaving her same aged friend  waiting for her on Earth and returning to find she’s still  ten whereas he is now almost 19, put me in mind of T.S. Eliot’s famous lines from Burnt Norton ‘Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future / And time future contained in time past.’

If only physics had been made this fascinating back in the day when I was studying it at A-level (albeit only for a few weeks before deciding it wasn’t for me).

I’d not heard of muons before reading this book – a muon being an elementary particle of the electron family weighing around 200 times more than an electron, but again found the spread using a muon to check time dilation and length contraction totally engrossing.

The book concludes with how speed increases the mass of an object; the imaginings of the young Einstein (note the word imagined is used by the author, highlighting the crucial importance of the role of the imagination in scientific discovery) and a look at the mathematical equations Einstein used to describe his ideas of special relativity, the former taking mere weeks to find, whereas he took ten years to understand the ideas themselves.

The entire topic is mind-stretchingly incredible and brilliantly explained in this book, with the aid of Eduard Altarriba’s vibrant, graphics. Strongly recommended for budding scientists either for home reading or in school.

Looking for Yesterday / Oh No! Where did Walter Go?

Looking for Yesterday
Alison Jay
Old Barn Books

It’s most often children who live their lives forward, eagerly anticipating what might come next, whereas adults tend to reminisce about what has already past.
In this story though, it’s the little boy narrator who is eager to turn the clock back: thinking nothing can ever be as good, he wants yesterday all over again.
Employing all his knowledge of science, he searches for a way to travel backwards in time …

and eventually turns to his grandad for help.
Instead, Grandad shares his own treasured memories of things he’s done;

but also shows the lad that there is much to look forward to, for every new day brings the possibility of exciting new adventures.
Although comparatively brief, Alison Jay’s text embraces notions of time and space, of hopes and memories, and of happiness.
Her illustrations add a surreal fantasy element to the story encouraging readers and listeners to embark upon their own flights of fancy. The whole book offers plenty to think about and discuss, especially to those teachers who have community of enquiry sessions with their children.

Oh No! Where Did Walter Go?
Joanna Boyle
Templar Publishing

Meet best friends and partners in crime, Olive aka Master of Mystery,  and the Duke of Daring, Walter her parakeet.
One day Walter goes missing and immediately Olive goes into detective mode following footprints, amassing evidence, interviewing the local residents and sticking up ‘Missing’ posters all over town.
Just when the whole search is becoming a tad overwhelming she receives a helpful pointer and off she speeds to the park: a very green place indeed.

How on earth is she to find her friend there among all those trees and bushes?
Undaunted Olive looks high and low but her search is fruitless: Walter is nowhere to be found and now she too is lost.

Will the two friends ever find one another again and if so, how will they manage to find the way back home?
Unless you look at the final page before embarking on the story, it’s not apparent that Walter is also searching for Olive and puts in an appearance on every spread; (although observant readers will probably spot him lurking somewhere as the narrative progresses). This adds a fun search and find element to the whole book and ensures that once the two characters are reunited, children will immediately want to go back and enjoy hunting for Walter all over again in Joanna Boyle’s stylish illustrations be they multi-framed strip sequences or expansive single scene spreads.