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Light Waves

Light Waves

David A. Adler, Illustrated by Anna Raff
Holiday House,
32 pp.
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From the dim flicker of a candle flame to the daily illumination provided by the Sun, visible light enables us to see our world. Despite its presence all around us, the properties of light can be confusing and counter-intuitive. Why, for example, does light, which travels in a straight line, appear to bend, when looking at a straw in a glass of water? Or why does our reflection invert when we look at the front of a metal spoon? Using a mix of illustrations and simple experiments aimed at a younger reader, David Adler explains the basic composition, behavior, and properties of light.

Through the casting of shadows by using a flashlight and a tower of wooden blocks, Adler teaches readers about objects that are transparent, translucent, or opaque. We are shown how to divide white light into a spectrum of colors when it passes through a prism, and from this, we are taught why objects have different colors depending on which part of the visible spectrum they reflect rather than absorb.

At times, the writing seems aimed at older readers; however, a glossary at the end helpfully pulls together all the optics terminology.

About the author

The reviewer is a senior editor at Science.