Light [(Picture) Book Review]

I’m not going to lie; reading is not THE most favorite activity that I enjoy doing. I prefer to be physically active and get out there. Climbing, biking, swimming, and more recently running. And on my free time, I enjoy yo-yoing, playing guitar, and just being social (especially if wine is included).

However, that recently changed earlier this month when I fell off my mountain bike going downhill and smashed my collarbone in half. Completely. Three weeks and twelve screws later, I’m now physically grounded for the months of June and July. And due to my one-handed limitation until the fracture heals, I read a lot this month (and 4 book review will soon follow now that I can finally type again).

broken shoulder      img_0151.jpg

Before Surgery                                   :             After Surgery

Note to self: Don’t mountain bike alone, especially if it’s a new trail >30 mile drive from home.

Anyway………the first review:

Light, co-authored by Kimberly Arcand and Megan Watzke, was the shortest and prettiest of the books I’ve read in the last month (or perhaps the last year). And it’s mostly a picture book, with the aim to help educate the “village idiot” about the electromagnetic spectrum (from radio waves to Gamma radiation) and all of its wonders and capabilities.

It’s actually the third book in the square-shaped Black Dog Publishing books that I own. I loved reading The Elements; from Hydrogen to UUH (or whatever it is now), you can read the book cover to cover and get a glimpse of all the “awkward elements” that you really don’t know much about (which doesn’t happen until you get to Scandium (#21)). I also own Molecules, which isn’t as whimsical personally, but it does paint a solid picture on how anything can go due to the vast possibilities of atomic orientations can lead to drastic material alterations.

Spoiler alert: A lot of elements are shiny gray metals, and most purified compounds are white powders.

However, Light felt more …….. like an extremely distilled book. For middle schoolers. And unfortunately, I was hoping for a bit more. The biggest problem is how the book doesn’t scratch any surfaces, which meant I didn’t learn much. For example, a page will say something like this: Some animals can detect UV radiation. Here’s a pretty picture of a butterfly that can (or might. It’s hard to confirm).

One thing that I personally wanted more from the book in detail is in which ways do we or nature create and detect specific wavelengths.  Please tell me HOW the butterfly detects UV radiation. It also seems that everything in space can radiate anything. So what processes correlate to which light energies? Or is it just a temperature thing (Plank Blackbody Radiation).

Another thing: >50% of the images are space-related images: galaxies, planets, satellite images.  30-40% are pseudo-random pictures of nature. And the remaining 10-20% are more technical images. In hindsight, the book IS written by two NASA employees. So when your tool is a hammer, your solution involves nails. So when your weapon of choice is satellites, well………..

I’ll still keep the book for now. It might be cool to show it to my kids (if that ever happens). But if you really want a space book, you are better off getting a space book.

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