Reviews /

Isabel and the Invisible World

Authored by Alan Lightman
Illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki
Published by Walker Books Ltd

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Isabel and the Invisible World is a beautifully illustrated book about a little girl who wants nothing for her birthday except the ability to see invisible things. The story opens the way for beginning to learn about the hidden world of light and is written by Alan Lightman (no pun intended) who is a physicist with a PhD in theoretical physics. Unusual then perhaps to be writing books for this age group. However, the story of Isabel’s birthday is a true invitation to study the science of light as she opens a box, within a box, within a box, to reveal a prism which lights up the hidden colours in the world. Teachers be prepared with plenty of prisms to keep young scientists actively engaged so that they can explore and find out for themselves at an appropriate level. There is a useful explanation of light waves as an appendix to the book for those who wish to learn more and this gives teachers an opportunity to read up on the subject, if necessary, before sharing what is a very complex science with young children.

The book is suitable for 5–7-year-olds. The characters are diverse with six-year-old Isabel as the central character and the rich illustrations invite further discussion. Adult support is necessary to help develop understanding and to discuss the topic of light and invisible things. It could, therefore, be read with a teacher in a class situation as an introduction to the science of light or in a one-to-one context with prisms at the ready. Be prepared for lots of discussion and questions to nurture those curious minds.