HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Along Came Galileo
Author and Illustrator: Jeanne Bendick
Publisher: Beautiful Feet Books, 1999
Related website: http://www.bfbooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Bendick, Jeanne. Along Came Galileo (published in 1999 by Beautiful Feet Books, 1306 Mill St., San Luis Obispo, CA 93401). Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was one of the most important scientific figures of the Renaissance. In this short biography from homeschool curriculum publisher Beautiful Feet Books, author Jeanne Bendick briefly covers Galileo’s life from his birth to musician and cloth merchant Vincenzio Galilei and his wife Julia in 1564 at Pisa, Italy, to his death at Arcetri, Italy, near Florence in 1642, a month shy of his 78th birthday. Among his accomplishments were inventing the hydrostatic balance, the first kind of thermometer, the pendulum clock, and the geometric compass, and perfecting both the telescope and the microscope. Galileo was always asking questions. Is it possible to measure heat or to weigh air? Does the earth stand still or does it move? How fast do objects fall to the earth?
Along Came Galileo is a great introduction for young readers to the story of this fascinating scientist. The book is also recommended by Veritas Press, another homeschool curriculum publisher. One thing which some parents might want to know about ahead of time is that reference is made to the fact that Galileo never married, yet he and his companion had three children, but this is simply mentioned as a historical detail. It is interesting how different reviewers react to the same book. One critic wrote, “Unfortunately, the author twisted facts with typical liberal anti-Christian bias” with “glimpses that misconstrue so badly that the essence of the person is lost.” I’m sorry, but I just didn’t see anything like this. In fact, Rea Berg said in the Introduction, “One remarkable aspect of Galileo’s life was that he was very much a man of faith as well as science. Even while developing and establishing the scientific method, he firmly believed in the truth of scripture.”
Thus, I would concur with another reviewer who, though initially skeptical that Bendick’s book would be an orthodox account of Galileo but thought that it would just echo the liberal sentiment about science at war with Christianity, noted, “Bendick presents a pretty balanced view of Galileo when it comes to his religious faith versus his scientific doctrine….She does a good job of explaining that Galileo was not some atheist crusader or even a Deist, but a faithful Catholic who had no intention of besmirching God or the Bible.” Jeanne Bendick’s best known biography is perhaps Archimedes and the Door of Science, and she has also written Galen and the Gateway to Medicine. One does not have to agree with all the views espoused by Galileo to recognize and appreciate his role in the scientific history of our Western Civilization.