BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Review: How to Hear the Universe by Patricia Valdez, Illustrated by Sara Palacios

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: March 8th, 2022
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Blurb from goodreads:

Discover new realms of outer space in this picture book biography of scientist Gabriela Gonzalez, who immigrated to America and became a ground-breaking scientist. Written by a molecular biologist and illustrated by an award-winning artist, this stunning picture book explores science, space, and history.

In 1916, Albert Einstein had a theory. He thought that somewhere out in the universe, there were collisions in space. These collisions could cause little sound waves in the fabric of space-time that might carry many secrets of the distant universe. But it was only a theory. He could not prove it in his lifetime.

Many years later, an immigrant scientist named Gabriela Gonzalez asked the same questions. Armed with modern technology, she joined a team of physicists who set out to prove Einstein's theory. At first, there was nothing. But then... they heard a sound. Gabriela and her team examined, and measured, and re-measured until they were sure.

Completing the work that Albert Einstein had begun 100 years earlier, Gonzalez broke ground for new space-time research. In a fascinating picture book that covers 100 years, 2 pioneering scientists, and 1 trailblazing discovery, Patricia Valdez sheds light on a little known but extraordinary story.

My Thoughts:

The science in the book was often over my head, science is not one of my strengths, but that didn't lessen the book's appeal for me. I am a little unclear as to what age group this book is intended for. With it's mix of full page illustrations, science, and biographical information, it seems too much for most elementary school students and not enough for middle schoolers.

Still, it's a worthwhile, and inspiring, story. A young Latina girl, fascinated by science and by Albert Einstein's work, grows up to build upon and expand upon his work and makes her own amazing discovery. I had never heard of her before this book and that's a shame.  

The book includes not only Gonzalez's story but a timeline, a glossary, a selected bibliography and other sources. With its Latinx representation, and a smart, determined woman at its heart, the book is inspirational while also being factual, as best as I can tell. One thing that bothered me was the physical depiction of Dr. Gabriela Gonzalez. I understand the book is aimed at children, but all throughout the book, Gonzalez is depicted as a child and later a young woman, although her discovery happened as an adult, in her late forties, early fifties. That certainly isn't an accurate depiction; why falsify her age?

Despite those weaknesses, "How to Hear the Universe" was an interesting story and it was wonderful to learn about a scientist who's not a man and not white.  It's a good resource for young or budding scientists.


  1. I have never heard of this female scientist but this sounds like a nice story. I do wonder why the authors decided to have her discover these things at a younger age.


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