Come See the Earth Turn: The Story of Leon Foucault by Lori Mortensen

foucaultCindy: When I saw Come See the Earth Turn (Tricycle Press 2010) I knew I had to read it. My daughters both recently graduated from Grand Haven High School (Mich.) a school that has a Foucault pendulum in it’s main entry. I’ve often joked that it was installed there to remind the students each morning as they enter that the world does not revolve around them! More likely it is in tribute to a school that respects inquiry and scientific knowledge…Grand Haven is a strong competitor at the state and national levels in Science Olympiad, but as a mother who survived raising two teenagers, I like my conspiracy theory.

Foucault was a 19th century physicist who was the first to prove that the Earth spins on its axis. Mortensen paints a portrait of a child who did not excel at school but still was inquisitive and, through an accidental discovery during another experiment, got the idea for how to prove what others had failed to do. The science may need further foucault-pendulumexplanation by an adult to the young audience for whom this book is intended, but it’s a fine introduction to a scientist we don’t hear much about and one who was not heralded during his own lifetime, despite the great achievement of his “beautiful experiment.”

Lynn: Even with our wonderful local connection, Foucault’s important experiment is one that many kids here don’t seem to know about.  For kids interested in science this book provides a look at not only the scientific idea but a refreshing reminder of the importance of questioning, experimenting and looking for new answers.  There IS more than filling in the blanks!  Additionally, this story of boy who struggled with school and yet worked steadily at what interested him is one that many children will find very reassuring.

Raul Allen’s lovely pencil and watercolor illustrations have an attractive period feel with their sepia tones.  An author’s note, glossary and bibliography round out an intriguing and unusual book.

nonfiction_mondayFor other excellent nonfiction titles check out Wrapped In Foil, this week’s Nonfiction Monday host.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "Come See the Earth Turn: The Story of Leon Foucault by Lori Mortensen"

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  1.' Roberta says:

    Must be an incredible school to have a Foucault pendulum! When I saw this in the Cybils nominations, it looked intriguing. Thanks for the wonderful review.

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