Reviewed by Clare Brook
Learning made easy and fun sums up Ouch: Tales of Gravity.
Illustrated beautifully by Andy Hardiman, Kate Simpson’s Ouch: Tales of Gravity, is an excellent example of science being presented via charming, colourful, and amusing illustrations. The illustrations are a mixture of full-page colour, or individual pictures surrounded by white space, supported by colourful text in varying sizes and fonts. This has the effect of bringing the subject matter in question into sharp focus. Children will not notice they are learning the ins and outs of a rather complicated concept.
This large hardback just oozes quality on every level. The pages are made durable by a heavier paper stock with a matt finish, so could withstand a bit of rough treatment. The illustrations are presented in deep colours and give an amusing visual to the ‘story’ of gravity, which, of course, begins with Isaac Newton daydreaming under an apple tree.
As a curly haired, or wigged Newton, sit under proverbial apple tree a little girl pops out and drops an apple on his head. A refreshing re-telling! Over the next four pages, Kate and Andy work to highlight evidence of gravity through the ages. It is then explained that gravity’s job is to pull things together. But small things are not affected so much, illustrated amusingly by a child running away from a hoard of small objects. It is a different story for big things, not like an elephant, or even a pyramid, but really big things like a planet. What follows are clever explanations and illustrations of how the sun’s gravity keeps the planets circling, how the pulling power of gravity makes things heavy and how life is without gravity in the International Space Station. This is followed, over several pages, by examples of life without gravity – tricky. How humans have tried to overcome gravity follows, from man-made wings to space rockets.
The last three pages are perhaps for older children, although that said, young children are constantly surprising in their intelligence. Here Kate using mainly text explains Newton’s thought experiments on what gravity does. Then children are introduced to Albert Einstein’s new theories explaining how gravity works, and the tricky concept of massive objects bending the fabric of space and time. The last page gives children an experiment to do to see gravity at work.
This is a wonderful book; the end result is greater than the sum of its parts.
Kate Simpson is a picture book author, podcast host and bookworm who loves facts and fiction in equal measure. She is also a chemical engineer who believes that curiosity can change the world.
Andy Hardiman is English-born living in Sydney, Australia. He has used his creative skills to design wallpaper, create gift cards, and has worked in multiple advertising agencies. He has a Masters of Art from the Royal College of Art, London.
By Kate Simpson
Illustrations by Andy Hardiman
Allen & Unwin