Title: Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize
Author: Kathy-Jo Wargin
Illustrator: Zachary Pullen
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Concepts: innovation, invention, social justice
Review: Early in his career as a scientist and inventor, Alfred Nobel felt drawn to the field of explosives. He was particularly interested in developing methods that would make nitroglycerin safer to handle when constructing roads and bridges and when manufacturing weapons. The experiments were extremely dangerous and even caused a fatal workshop accident that killed five people, including Alfred’s brother Emil. One of Alfred’s subsequent breakthroughs led to the creation of dynamite, which ultimately made him a very rich man.
Over time, Alfred apparently felt growing remorse that others viewed his invention and its applications in the military primarily as a means of injuring and killing people. He bequeathed almost his entire fortune to the creation of a fund that would finance generous annual prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. (The prize in economics was added decades later.)
This book brings to life an interesting story that children will enjoy hearing, particularly with the direct text that crisply presents important highlights, and the fabulous illustrations that magnify the characters’ facial features. Children and adults alike will walk away with a new understanding of the invention of dynamite, the establishment of the Nobel Prizes, and the ironic link between these two events.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children