Sunday, February 18, 2024

Today's read... Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya

Did you know that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Rubik's Cube? I remember when everyone...and I do mean everyone...had one of these. I don't see them around much anymore, but I'm betting they might get a bit of a revival this year. While I have seen books about this popular cube, I was surprised to now find a picture book about the creator. Okay, maybe surprised is the wrong word. Curious? Definitely curious. I'm also curious to see how the author handles this because I see this one as a tough topic to grab young readers' interest with...and I'm ready to be proved wrong.

Also, Bookworm for Kids has long out-grown its present format, and I'm working on plans to step things up. Since this is all about you, my readers, I would love to hear any feedback or ideas you might have concerning what you'd like to see in a kidlit review website. Just comment below or reach out to me on the email found in my Review policies. I'm happy for any thoughts and ideas!

by Kerry Aradhya
Illustrated by Kara Kramer
Peachtree Press
Picture Book   /   Nonfiction
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

MAY 14th!!!

This first picture book biography of Erno Rubik, creator of the Rubik’s Cube, reveals the obsession, imagination, and engineering process behind the creation of a bestselling puzzle that will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2024.

In 2023, the world record for solving the Rubik’s Cube was broken by Max Park, who finished in 3.13 seconds!

And then there’s you. Did you ever get so frustrated with a Rubik’s Cube that you wanted to pull it apart and put it back together in order? Were you to do so, you’d see how cleverly one of the world’s most popular toys is assembled. Working together, the 26 pieces combine to make 43 quintillion possible configurations—but only one solution.

A solitary child, Erno Rubik grew up in post-World War II Hungary obsessed with puzzles, art, nature, and the underlying patterns and structures. He became a professor of art, architecture, and design, who was still fascinated with how objects work together, sometimes becoming greater than their components. In a quest to help his students understand three-dimensional objects and how they move—not to mention a desire to entertain himself—he fashioned a cube whose pieces twisted and turned without breaking, and unexpectedly invented the Rubik's Cube, the most popular puzzle in history, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2024.



Grab a Rubik's cube before diving into this read, which hits not only the creator's tale but also gives a glance at how the entire thing works.

This book is appearing in celebration to the 50th Anniversary of the Rubik's Cube and starts where it all began. Beginning with Erno Rubik's childhood, the reader learns about his early interest in cubes, triangles, constructing, and building. It quickly zooms through his older years (after school), and then, shifts gears as it concentrates on his desire to construct what later became the Rubik's Cube. 

While this read does hit a basic overview of Rubik's biography, it makes sure to highlight the things young readers would connect with: his childhood, playing, and hobbies. It doesn't fall into the trap of hitting 'boring' facts or concentrating on more than what's necessary during his adult years. Readers can relate to him and won't left behind. The slide from biography to the engineering theme is smooth. Step-by-step, the pages reveal Rubik's journey from the idea of the cube to the form we know today. The author and illustrator take care to go from the beginning thought and lead through the trials and errors of the creation process. While the workings of the cube are more directed toward the older end of the reading audience, the process of taking a dream from the first idea to the final product should be clear to all and inspire. Rubik's mistakes, numerous attempts, and readjustments of plans make it clear that things don't happen overnight, and that mistakes are needed to usher in improvements. It's a valuable concept on many fronts.

The illustrations are bright and bold like the Rubik's Cube and let the colors inspire every scene. While the text does offer needed details, the illustrations carry much of the tale on their own. Rubik is portrayed as a kind, curious kid, which makes him easy to identify with. But it's in the later, more technical scenes, which the illustrations really shine. They bring the construction idea behind the cube down to a visual level, which helps readers understand what is happening.

This is a well-done read and does a better job at hitting the intended age group than I expected. I do suggest letting readers play with a Rubik's Cube before reading this, since the book does require that the reader, at least, know what the cube is and how it rotates (from the handling side). As said above, the technical tidbits will grab more readers on the older end of the reading level. I do wish the construction had gone one tiny step further and explained/displayed how the small cubes on the edges are connected to the center, since only six connections are shown. But I realize this might go a bit far for the age group.

Anyway, it's a great way to bring the information across to a younger audience and inspire interest in the Rubik's Cube. It's also opens the door to a fun project and who knows what other building ideas it will inspire.

And here they are...

Kerry Aradhya loves to puzzle over words and immerse herself in the creative process. She is the author of Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube and more than a dozen poems in award-winning children’s magazines such as Babybug, Ladybug, and Highlights High Five. When not writing for children, Kerry works part-time as a science writer/editor and performs with a quirky modern dance ensemble. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and their cute but naughty pooch named Sofie.

Kara Kramer is a mixed media artist, and illustrator who loves to PLORK with all mediums. She has taught creative art workshops for both children and adults. Ever since she was little, her happiest hours are spent moving her hands to make something new. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.

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