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Giants of Science

MEET ME AT THE CORNER interview about Giants of Science

“Absorbing introductions to great thinkers—if not always great people.”
                        --- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 

“As to contemporary narrative non-fiction I can very happily recommend Kathleen Krull's new Giants of Science series…. I do not think it's any service to children to offer them the kind of writing that was being done in the 50s and 60s. That's mythology. I adore Kathleen Krull's anthologies, and these newer bios are terrific too. Let's ‘humanize’ these ‘heroes’ by showing them warts and all.”
                              --Bookseller Andy Laties on the Read Roger blog

A “Best Continuing Series”
-- Kirkus

Benjamin Franklin

Sure, almost all kids know Benjamin Franklin as one of America’s Founding Fathers, a man with a hand in both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. And they may even have some vague idea that he once flew a kite during a lightning storm. What Kathleen Krull sets out to do in this very different biography is show Ben Franklin the “natural philosopher” (the term for scientists back in the 1700s), whose experiments led to important discoveries about the nature of electricity—including his famous demonstration that electricity and lightning were one and the same.

As always, this much-lauded series presents a true Giant of Science in a juicily anecdotal way. This is social history at its best. . . . who knew that Franklin became such a megastar that Paris shops sold Ben dolls, Ben ashtrays, even Ben wallpaper?

Leonardo da VinciLeonardo Da Vinci

I like to think of my new Giants of Science books as the “anti-Eureka” series. These are biographies of real human beings that show how scientific discovery is never a revelation arriving in a single, mind-blowing flash. The series name—Giants of Science—bounces off an uncharacteristically modest quote from Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further [than other people] it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” In other words, he knew he was building upon the work of great brains before him—a pithy description of the way science advances. So, not only am I trying to paint a portrait of individuals, in all their warty glory, but also a landscape of the world they lived in—what was known and not known in other fields at the time. We all know that painting was Leonardo da Vinci’s livelihood, but studying the natural world was his passion—botany, astronomy, zoology, geology, paleontology, aerodynamics, and most of all anatomy. He obsessed with experiments and observations for half of his life, meticulously cataloging everything in his gorgeous notebooks. What insights did he achieve? Did he have a case of Renaissance attention deficit disorder? Why isn’t he better known as a scientist?
--Permission to reprint from "The 'Anti-Eureka' Series" by Kathleen Krull (Vol. 15, no. 2, November 2005) granted by Book Links: Connecting Books, Libraries, and Classrooms, published by the American Library Association.
A 2006 ALA Notable Book for Children

“With a totally captivating opening and a conversational writing style, Krull offers a vivid description of life in the Middle Ages. Readers will come away from this accessible volume with an understanding of who Leonardo was and a desire to know more about this fascinating, brilliant man.”
-- School Library Journal, starred review

“At Krull’s hands, biography blitzes by at the speed of a well-paced novel….
If this volume is a reliable indicator, readers can expect [the series] to combine the depth of a standard-length children’s biography with the gossipy details that make her “Lives of” books so popular…. This fairly begs to be booktalked, and it just might lure some fresh readers over to the biography shelves.”
--Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“This lively biography, the initial offering in the Giants of Science series, sets a high standard for the five books to follow…. [Krull’s] narrative voice is filled with energy and wonder.”
--Horn Book

“With an inviting, conversational narrative and Boris Kulikov's occasional atmospheric pen-and-inks, this series launches with an impressive start.”
--Publisher's Weekly, starred review

“That Krull manages, in some 100-plus text pages, to present Leonardo's scientific accomplishments while at the same time conveying a sense of the man himself… is no mean feat and bodes well for the succeeding volumes in the series.”
--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

CBC/NSTA Outstanding Science Book of the Year
A Booklinks “Lasting Connection”
A Publishers Weekly Best Book
A Kirkus Best Book of the Year

Lovely Leonardo Lesson Plans based on this book

Albert EinsteinAlbert Einstein

Best Biography Duo 2010, The Children’s Literature Council of Southern California

NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books

Junior Library Guild Selection

"Krull delivers a splendidly humane biography of that gold standard of brilliance, Albert Einstein...Another standout in a uniformly stellar series." --Kirkus, starred review

"Krull once again demonstrates her ability to balance a description of the personality of a genius with the significance of his contribution to science….The author employs colloquial terms and concrete examples to make her work both engaging and accessible to young audiences. While delivering Einstein's theories is a task few biographers could accomplish, Krull's use of imagery, like Einstein's own thought pictures, will give readers a reasonable idea of his theorems."
--School Library Journal, starred review

"[An] engrossing and remarkably accessible biography." --Horn Book
For independent readers and report writers, this is a very appealing addition to a long bookshelf. --Booklist

Senor Parrot

Darwin coverCharles Darwin

Voya’s Nonfiction Honor List 2010

“Krull is a seasoned pro, and as in the series’ previous entries, she writes in easily paced, lively, conversational prose, knitting together interesting facts, anecdotes, and historical overviews into a fascinating whole. She offers clear definitions of not only Darwin’s theories but also how his discoveries built on previous scientists’ work and notes that his greatest contribution to science was his theory of natural selection, not evolution, a distinction that sometimes gets muddied in the still-feverish debates about his work....An excellent resource for contemporary classroom discussions.”
                             --Booklist, starred review

Booklist’s Top 10 Science and Health Books for Youth: 2011

“Outstanding, accessible and humorous….The series is a must purchase. Don't skip this entry, even if you've got a couple of Darwin biographies on the shelf.” --Prose and kahn

“It amazes me that the controversy that Darwin faced 150 years ago still exists today.” --When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer

Sarah Reads YA

“Readers who favor the flow of a novel in nonfiction works but aren’t quite up to Deborah Heiligman’s Charles and Emma will find this quick read as easygoing as its subject.”
                   --Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

"Krull's lively writing fleshes out [his life and accomplishments]....Kulikov's occasional art brings humor and drama to this brisk account."
                             --Horn Book

"With evolution at the core of Montessori's cultural curriculum, it seems this book is a must for any well-stocked Montessori elementary library.”  
                                                --Montessori Life, Summer 2011

“Krull does a fabulous job of making Darwin real, from boyhood to adulthood. The information is obviously well researched and it is presented in a reader-friendly manner…. Darwin's ideas are presented as well as those of his opponents and fellow scientists. This is a fine addition to the series.”
                                      ----School Library Journal

Newton coverIsaac Newton

“Krull and Newton are a match made in heaven: she with her flair for capturing the flaws and foibles of the mighty, and he with his razor-sharp mind and abysmal social skills.  Chatty, incisive chapters fly by at the speed of a well-crafted novel.”
                                    --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review 

“Writing in a style aptly described in the blurb as juicily anecdotal…Krull offers a multifaceted portrait of a genius.”
--School Library Journal, starred review

“Aw, man. This title's good. Heck, even the science in this book makes sense.”
                                    --Elizabeth Bird of A Fuse #8 Production

BCCB Blue Ribbon
School Library Journal Best Book
A Booklist “Top 10 Youth Biography”
ALA Notable Book for Children
Finalist for the Cybils, the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award
A Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year

Freud coverSigmund Freud

“Lucid and thoughtful examination of Freud's life, work and legacy…. To tactfully admit young readers into such a contentious dialogue is no mean feat, and marks this offering as truly stellar.”
--Kirkus, starred review
“This third Giants of Science book demonstrates the conceptual scope of a series that traces the nature of scientific thinking. Leonardo da Vinci explored the beginnings of scientific inquiry; Isaac Newton showed how one man introduced inductive reasoning through the scientific method. In her latest work, Krull introduces Freud, who brought empirical research into the canon…. Clearly and without sensationalism, Krull presents his theories.”
                                    --Horn Book

ALA Notable Book for Children
A CBC/NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book
New York Public Library “Books for the Teen Age” (“earning his cred with the human head”)

Marie CurieMarie Curie

“Another top-notch scientific biography in the outstanding Giants of Science series. Readers have come to expect chatty, direct narratives that develop distinct characters and place those individuals squarely in the context of both their times and their disciplines, and this account of the noted physicist’s life delivers the goods. From her childhood in an oppressed Poland, the daughter of two highly educated individuals, Curie emerges as a driven woman, determined to excel for both her parents’ and her country’s sake, this drive informing everything that followed. As in previous series entries, this offering manages to take a wildly complex subject—atomic physics—and render it comprehensible to the child reader, emphasizing the legacy Curie left behind. Curie’s personal life—her unusual (for the times) partnership with her husband, her frustration with the limitations imposed on her because of her sex, her difficulty balancing work and family—receives admiring, but frank consideration. Readers will emerge from this account with a new appreciation for both the scientific and social advances made by Curie, whose towering achievements justly earn her a place among the ‘Giants.’”
                                        --Kirkus, starred review

ALA Notable Book for Children

Four titles now in paperback

Other Biographies    Other Books    Oldies but Goodies