In honour of STEM day in the US, today’s review is of a book that got all of my Year 4 Reading Gladiators talking about the finer points of Quantum Mechanics. That’s right – today’s review is of The Many Worlds of Albie Bright.
11 year-old Albie’s parents are both scientists for CERN, working on incredibly complex theories of how the universe works. When Albie’s mum dies of cancer, his dad explains to him about ‘Many Worlds’ theory, and how in some other universe, Albie’s mum is probably still alive. Armed with this knowledge, a box, a quantum computer, and a radioactive banana, Albie goes in search of his mum.
Honestly, this book is probably my favourite book that I have read all year. It’s a perfect blend of science with slight fantasy elements, and it’s excellent for engaging children in science. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, after reading this book my Year 4 pupils created their own game in the playground called ‘Schrödinger’s Cat’. They also took in an impressive amount of information about Quantum Entanglement. Seriously – this book is excellent!
This book is funny – a particular scene involving a platypus in a bow tie comes to mind specifically here. It’s also incredibly sad in places. A word to the wise – the last world that Albie visits will hit you right in the gut. I cried. Quite a lot. The kids will think it’s sad, but not anywhere near as sad as you will as an adult. It’s perfect, but it’s poignant. Perhaps that’s why it was nominated for a Carnegie Medal.
And that’s just it, at its heart, Albie Bright is the perfect fusion of fun and sadness, science and silliness. You will laugh and cry, and by the end of it, you might even be able to understand a little bit about quantum mechanics.
If you enjoy this book (which I’d suggest for roughly 9-12 year-olds, though it has appeal elsewhere too) I recommend that you also read The Jamie Drake Equation, Time Travelling with a Hamster, or George’s Secret Key to the Universe.