Redding, Anna Crowley

The Gravity Tree: The True Story of a Tree That Inspired the World

(2) K-3 Illustrated by Yas Imamura. Redding gives readers the biography of a tree--the very tree under which Isaac Newton sat when he began thinking about gravity and motion. Expressive language details its growth: "The tree's tips ballooned with blossoming buds, swarmed by bees until petals fell away to reveal growing apples." When, circa 1665, Newton observes that one of those apples falls straight down, he connects that force with the force that keeps the moon in the sky, a thought process explained in the illustrations rather than in the animated text ("Isaac came up with the answer: gravity! Universal gravity!"). The tree becomes a tourist attraction until lightning strikes around 1820. Still, a living root remained, and as science branched out in many directions, so did the tree; in modern times it inspired such visitors as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. And, in 2010, almost two hundred years after the lightning storm, scientists took a piece of the tree up to the International Space Station. There it floated, prompting this enthusiastic conclusion: "Nearly 350 years later, Isaac was right!" Rich shading marks the earth tones in the illustrations, with the browns particularly resembling highly polished wood. Appended with brief biographies of Newton, Einstein, and Hawking; a timeline of Newton's life; and a bibliography.


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