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Intermediate Summer 2019 (1)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Intermediate | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Summer

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Losure, Mary.
Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d. Candlewick Press, 2017. 163 pages (978–0–7636–7063–4)

How do you recount the life of a 17th-century scientist in a way that is captivating for youth? One way is to make it magical. Isaac Newton grew up at a time when there was little or no distinction between magic and science. His mathematical discoveries are what helped firmly distinguish between the two; even so, he never gave up his belief in alchemy. Here, Newton is profiled from childhood on as a singular intelligence. He didn’t often relate well to people, but he was brilliant and passionate in pursuit of his interests, from alchemy to math to mechanics. Although details about his childhood in particular are not abundantly known, Losure creates a vivid sense of the time and place in which he grew up, including ample information about alchemy, which so fascinated Newton. Near volume’s end, after recounting how Newton’s discoveries transformed understanding in physics and astronomy in particular, Losure writes, “This magician, this last sorcerer—the greatest of all alchemists—was the same man who banished magic from the scientific world.” End matter in this highly readable volume includes glimpses of Isaac’s notebooks, and excerpts from some of the alchemy books of his time, as well as source notes and bibliography.  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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