Author: Jim Ottaviani
Art by: Leland Myrick
Coloring by: Hilary Sycamore
Published August 30th, 2011 by First Second
Goodreads Summary: Richard Feynman: physicist . . . Nobel winner . . . bestselling author . . . safe-cracker. In this substantial graphic novel biography, First Second presents the larger-than-life exploits of Nobel-winning quantum physicist, adventurer, musician, world-class raconteur, and one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century: Richard Feynman. Written by nonfiction comics mainstay Jim Ottaviani and brilliantly illustrated by First Second author Leland Myrick, Feynman tells the story of the great man’s life from his childhood in Long Island to his work on the Manhattan Project and the Challenger disaster. Ottaviani tackles the bad with the good, leaving the reader delighted by Feynman’s exuberant life and staggered at the loss humanity suffered with his death. Anyone who ever wanted to know more about Richard P. Feynman, quantum electrodynamics, the fine art of the bongo drums, the outrageously obscure nation of Tuva, or the development and popularization of the field of physics in the United States need look no further than this rich and joyful work.
Review: This book definitely showed me that I have HUGE gaps in knowledge in history, science, and math. Reading this book was so challenging for me – probably one of the hardest books I’ve read in a very, very long time. It took me 10 days because most days I didn’t read much because I’d find myself rereading or going online to research or just overwhelmed by the little bit I read. Makes me feel for our struggling readers who are given text that are too hard for them and not given scaffolding. If anyone ever tells you that graphic novels are not complex or challenging texts, hand them this book.
Now, all of this is saying things about myself, not about the book. The book itself was fascinating. I learned so much! I’ll be honest. Physics is still so over my head and most of the physics stuff talked about in the book (and that I researched) just didn’t make sense to me; however, this book also includes a great story of Feynman’s life and history about the atomic bomb, NASA, and the Nobel Prize. All of which I did truly enjoy and learn something from. It was also quite funny at times- Feynman was a character!
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I cannot wait to show this text to the physical science teachers at my school. It is a great text to show content area teachers that there are wonderful texts out there that can be used in the classroom. This book then can expand to even more instruction on Feynman and all of his physics. You can even view Feynman’s lectures online!!
Discussion Questions: When Feynman was working on the atomic bomb, some of his colleagues felt that it was a devastating invention while others continued working on it without thinking of the destruction it would cause. How do you feel about the construction of the atomic bomb? Were the use/construction of them justified?; After watching one of Feynman’s lectures, why was he better at explaining physics than other lecturers?
We Flagged: “But then a miracle occurred. And it’s occurred again and again in my life, and it’s very lucky for me. The moment I start to think about physics and concentrate on what I’m explaining, I’m completely immune to being nervous. No worries about the audience and the personalities. I was calm, everything was good. My talk wasn’t good because I wasn’t used to giving lectures, but there was no nervousness until I sat down. Einstein appreciated that things might be different from his famous theory of relativity – very nice, and very interesting. Pauli had more objections, but Wheeler kept his promise and answered all of them.” (p. 48-49)
Read This If You Loved: Surely Your Joking, Mr. Feynman! and other books by Richard P. Feynman On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne, Who Was Albert Einstein? by Jess M. Brallier, Nonfiction physics books