The Ups and Downs of Gravity  – David A. Adler, illustrated by Anna Raff

The Ups and Downs of Gravity  – David A. Adler, illustrated by Anna Raff. Holiday House, 2020. 9780823446360

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

 What did you like about the book? Gravity, inertia, and other physics topics are explained in this lengthy picture book.  Beginning with an introduction to the work of Isaac Newton, a mouse in a dress teaches about mass, matter, orbits, and resistance (with simple experiments to try) to two children and a dog, who all eagerly participate in the mouse’s lessons.   

Explanations about why things weigh less on the moon than on Earth, and why different objects fall to the ground at different rates, will be interesting to readers, as will the discussions about how planets stay in their orbit.   Adler does a decent job of explaining a lot of difficult terms and concepts in kid-friendly language (there is a very simplistic glossary as well), but in some cases things are almost over-explained.  Diagrams and labeled illustrations help slightly, but the text is very dense and would be hard to hold the attention of an independent reader.  The design of the book is attractive, with a graph-paper background, handwritten captions and labels, and cute illustration style, but the juvenile appearance belies the challenging text.

Anything you did not like about the book?  I still don’t understand physics any better than when I took it in high school.

 To whom would you recommend this book? Upper elementary science teachers who need an introduction to the subject will definitely find this a serviceable readaloud (with lots of pauses for clarification), although Jason Chin’s Gravity is a better, less wordy choice.  

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Nonfiction – Dewey 531

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  no

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: 6/10/2021

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