Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize - Book Review and Giveaway


"Alfred named his invention after the Greek word dynamis, which means power. But to the world, Alfred Nobel had invented something called dynamite." - Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize by Kathy-Jo Wargin, illustrated by Zachary Pullen

Today, on the first anniversary last year's historic election, I watched the live TV coverage of President Obama as he spoke to students, teachers and parents at the Wright Middle School here in Wisconsin. He talked about his new educational agenda and the Race to the Top grants. In his speech he remarked that, "The right education is a prerequisite to success. It is the currency of our knowledge economy. And yet, we continue to trail other countries in a number of critical areas. The United States, a nation that has always led the way in innovation, is now being outpaced in math and science education." Education has become America's newest mission.

I just had the chance to read an outstanding book about an important innovator named Alfred Nobel, the man responsible for founding the Nobel Prizes. No surprise here, Nobel himself had the privilege of a first rate, private education and was born into a family of engineers. And as a scientist and inventor, he understood the importance of acknowledging leaders in scientific fields in addition to awards in literature and peace. Next month President Obama will travel to Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

Even though almost everyone has heard about the Nobel prizes not many know the facts of Alfred Nobel's life. Kathy-Jo Wargin brings this scientific and entrepreneurial genius to life Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize, a story about Nobel's life and work. The book does not detail Nobel's early life growing up in Sweden and Russia but focuses on his work with nitroglycerin and invention of the blasting cap and his subsequent invention of dynamite, his greatest discovery. Besides his interest in science, he also loved literature, wrote poetry and was involved in social and peace-related issues. However, not all viewed his accomplishments in a positive light. Years before his actual death, a premature obituary was written that accused him of becoming wealthy through inventions that had killed and injured others. Some sources, including Wargin's book speculate that this obituary spurred Nobel into leaving a more positive legacy behind, the Nobel prizes. In the back of the book is a list of all the individuals that have won the Nobel Peace Prize beginning in 1901 and ending with 2008 recipient Martti Ahtisaari.

This picture book provides a brief but interesting and well-illustrated account of Alfred Nobel's adult life. I never realized that the man that invented dynamite was also the man behind the Nobel Prizes for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace. While I wish that Wargin had chosen to discuss Nobel's youth, the information presented about his inventions and scientific discoveries fascinated me. It also surprised me that Nobel's own brother died in an explosion in one of his workshops researching nitroglycerin. Zachary Pullen's action filled illustrations show the bearded Nobel at various points in his busy life and a couple illustrations show rough schematics of two of Nobel's inventions, the blasting cap and dynamite. Maybe those children that read the book will be inspired to achieve great things in their own lives. Wargin certainly hopes so. In her inscription in the beginning of the book, she writes, "To all children who carry the vision, the dream, and the willpower to make our world smarter, healthier, safer, and a more peaceful place to live for all people."

Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize by Kathy-Jo Wargin, illustrated by Zachary Pullen. Sleeping Bear Press (January 2009); 32 pages; ISBN 9781585362813
Book Source: Review copy provided for free by publisher (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)


Related Links:
Kathy-Jo Wargin - Author Website
Zachary Pullen - Illustrator Website
Sleeping Bear Press Alfred Nobel Teacher's Guide
The Official Web Site of the Nobel Foundation http://nobelprize.org/


Win a copy! Sleeping Bear Press/Gale Cengage Learning has kindly offered to give away (3) copies of Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize to Brimful Curiosities readers. 3 WINNERS!

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US and Canada
• Contest ends on Monday, November 23rd, 2009 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random
Four ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 5 - leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Just for fun, comment with the name of one person who has won a Nobel Peace Prize.
2nd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader
3rd extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
4th extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.

50 comments:

Sheila said...

Please enter me in this contest.
Thank you.
ludeluh at yahoo dot com

Sheila said...

1st extra entry: Al Gore won for his work on climate change.
ludeluh at yahoo dot com

Sheila said...

2nd extra entry: I am a follower on google reader (blogger)
ludeluh at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

We do hear so much about the Nobel Prizes and so little about Nobel's life. I'd love to read about it.

Thanks.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

President Obama just won a Nobel Peace Prize.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

The Allen Family said...

This book looks interesting. I would love to read this and learn with my sons. History is not my strong suit, so this would be a great way to learn a little more.

clenna said...

I never knew much about this man. His life sounds very interesting. My grandson wants to be an inventor. I'd love to share this book with him.

clenna at aol dot com

clenna said...

Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize. Two of our Presidents also won: jimmy Carter and Obama.

clenna at aol dot com

Honey Mommy said...

Did you know that Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002?

ossmcalc said...

I would love to win a copy of this book. Please enter me.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

President Obama just won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

I follow you and subscribe by email and Google Reader.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

I follow you on Twitter and tweeted about this giveaway http://twitter.com/ossmcalc/status/5525315077

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ChristiS said...

This sounds like a very interesting read for kids (and me!)

christis at gmail dot com

Desiree said...

What a great sounding book! I would love to win and share this with my daughter :)

Desi
weeshareblog@gmail.com
http://weeshare.blogspot.com

Desiree said...

President Obama just won.

Desi
weeshareblog@gmail.com
http://weeshare.blogspot.com

Desiree said...

I follow your blog and subscribe

Desi
weeshareblog@gmail.com
http://weeshare.blogspot.com

Desiree said...

http://twitter.com/WeeShare/status/5718793376

Desi
weeshareblog@gmail.com
http://weeshare.blogspot.com

JK said...

The Red Cross won the Peace Prize twice, 1917 and 1944. Interesting, if you think of the wars at the time.
jaimiemildred at gmail dot com

JK said...

What an interesting book! I'd love to add it to our collection. I love history.
jaimiemildred at gmail dot com

clariline98@yahoo.com said...

Please enter me in the contest!
I enjoy your blog.

Winning Readings said...

Wow - I've learned a lot just reading your review. Never knew about the dynamite connection... :)

I'd love to win the book!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Winning Readings said...

And we posted about this at Winning Readings: http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2009/11/alfred-nobel.html

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Jake Lsewhere said...

Looks like a good book, please enter me into this drawing.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway.
jake.lsewhere[at]gmail.com

Jake Lsewhere said...

Bertha von Suttner was the first woman to win the Peace Prize, in 1905.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway.
jake.lsewhere[at]gmail.com

Jake Lsewhere said...

I'm a follow via Friend Connect.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway.
jake.lsewhere[at]gmail.com

Susan said...

Looks like a great book! My troop is doing a book drive for nature-realted books for the nature cabin at camp. Hope to win!

Jake Lsewhere said...

I've also blogged about this giveaway here.

Thanks,
jake.lsewhere[at]gmail.com

shopannies said...

looks like a super book that would make for great reading
shopannies@yahoo.com

shopannies said...

following on twitter and tweete http://twitter.com/shopannies/status/5978015615

shopannies@yahoo.com

Bingo said...

I would like to win this as I am not sure I know much about the man behind this wonderful prize...thanks for the chance!

kdhaney AT gmail dot com

Bingo said...

Henry Kissinger I know won as well as Mother Teresa...and we all know Jimmy Carter and President Obama won

kdhaney AT gmail dot com

Wanda said...

I am a follower of your blog. I also subscribe via Google Reader.
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

Wanda said...

I've never known who was behind the Nobel Peace Prize. Now that I do, I think this book would be a fascinating read.
Please enter my name in your draw. Thanks.
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

Mary said...

I'm looking for poetry by Alfred Nobel - any hints for finding some?