Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

I, Galileo

I, Galileo

Bonnie Christensen
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Random House, 2012   ISBN: 978-0375867538

Galileo was raised in a house in Pisa that was full of music and where Galileo and his siblings were encouraged “to ask questions,” and to “seek answers in search of truth.” After being educated in a monastery, Galileo became a student at the University of Pisa. His father wanted him to become a doctor, but Galileo was more interested in mathematics, and he ended up dropping out. For some people such a move would put an end to any further learning, but not in Galileo’s case. He was far too interested in the world around him not to want to learn, and soon he was a popular teacher and lecturer.

Galileo was not afraid to challenge the conclusions made by scientists and thinkers who preceded him. Aristotle believed that a heavy falling object would fall faster than a light one. Galileo conducted an experiment by dropping two cannonballs of different weights from the leaning Tower of Pisa at the same time, and as he had predicted, both balls landed at the same time. Unfortunately people clung to their old beliefs even if those beliefs were proven wrong. This tendency became a real problem for Galileo in the years to come.

When, using a telescope that he had designed, Galileo figured out that the sun was at the center of our universe and the not the Earth, the Catholic Church was furious. They considered Galileo’s idea of a sun-centered universe to be heresy. Galileo began to wonder if he would ever be allowed to share his ideas with others. Would the truth ever be free?

In this powerful biography, Bonnie Christensen tells Galileo’s story from his point of view, showing her readers how special and gifted he was, and how unhappy he became when the church refused to let him share his discoveries with the world. Readers will come to appreciate how lucky we are today to have the freedom to explore our universe and to share ideas with others as we wish. They will also appreciate how much Galileo sacrificed in the name of truth.