Reviews /

All Charged Up! : Big Ideas That Changed the World

Authored by Don Brown
Illustrated by Don Brown
Published by Abrams

Tagged , , , , , ,

There isn’t a huge choice when it comes to nonfiction graphic novels. Luckily, there is a series by US writer/illustrator Don Brown, which is now on its fifth book. All Charged Up! follows Rocket to the Moon!, Machines that Think!, A Shot in the Arm! and We the People!

This story of electricity is narrated by Bengali writer Jagadish Chandra Bose, who has his own part to play in the story other than telling it. I hadn’t heard of this writer, so I was keen to find out his contribution. Something which this book does really well is showing the reader more than the basics that other histories tell us.

The ‘story’ starts with the mystery that must have faced early humans when encountering electricity. The story then moves throughout history from Ancient Greece to the present day. This sounds standard for a nonfiction text about electricity, but there are things which this book does better than a lot of other texts.

A narrative nonfiction text, like this one, does serve a different purpose to other nonfiction. They both have their place and will appeal to different readers. I prefer this narrative approach, because it encourages me to read it from front to back without skipping and flicking back and forth. I expect I’ve missed a lot of information doing this in the past; pages which I decided – wrongly – that I wasn’t interested in, so would leave them out… but how would I know if I didn’t at least try them? What treasures of information I might have missed!

The graphic novel approach paired with the narrative gives you the visual aspect too. Diagrams, machines, experiments, setting all give important historical and technical context. But, what about the content? If a reader wants to know about those who played their part, this book does that. Not just the main ‘big hitters’, but the lesser-known ones who are rightly given credit. Learning about the different experiments was a highlight. It doesn’t just tell you what these scientists did, but it shows us how, why and the results. And how these then moved the story on.

This book amplifies the notion that those who make discoveries and standing on the shoulders of giants – as I believe Isaac Newton once said. It’s all very humbling and expresses the true collaborative essence of science. This text is for those who want more detail and deeper information on this subject. It’s accessible, well designed and I will be seeking out the other books in the series. They would make a great alternative to a class read and addition to the school library. Readers from lower Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 will enjoy this book.