Isaac The Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal'd
Before Isaac Newton became the father of physics, an accomplished mathematician, or a leader of the scientific revolution, he was a boy living in an apothecary’s house, observing and experimenting, recording his observations of the world in a tiny notebook. As a young genius living in a time before science as we know it existed, Isaac studied the few books he could get his hands on, built handmade machines, and experimented with alchemy—a process of chemical reactions that seemed, at the time, to be magical. Mary Losure’s riveting narrative nonfiction account of Isaac’s early life traces his development as a thinker from his childhood, in friendly prose that will capture the attention of today’s budding scientists—as if by magic. Back matter includes an afterword, an author’s note, source notes, a bibliography, and an index.
“A book, too, can be a force”
Isaac The Alchemist is a very quiet book. Much like Isaac the boy. There is something powerful and inspiring about his determination to understand the physical world around him, even at a young age. Isaac was an introvert, happier to spend time with his books and experiments than doing just about anything else. I can imagine Isaac’s story would be an inspiration to any young child coming to terms with their own introversion and understanding that a quiet, cerebral life with books, science and a few close friends is exactly what they want from their own lives.
Losure’s book lies somewhere between a non-fiction, scholarly text for young readers, and an enjoyable biography about a remarkable historical figure when he was a child. Perfect for school and home libraries, readers will assuage their curiosity about science and the mysteries alchemy as they also learn of Isaac’s personal childhood story.
The illustrations from Isaac’s childhood notebooks add a nice level of authenticity, although many of the photos lack captions. In some cases, the photos are blurry and could use further explanation.
While Isaac’s story is portrayed accurately and the author references various sources as well as Isaac’s own notebooks, the result was lacking a much needed flare of personality, but shouldn’t deter readers from the learning experience.
As Losure ruminates on the young Newton’s future and his endless pursuit of knowledge, she says, “A book, too, can be a force.” Isaac the Alchemist is definitely a force of inspiration to young readers in need of a role model within the field of science.