Alvin Silverstein Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Alvin Silverstein 1933– Virginia B(arbara) Silverstein 1937–

(Alvin Silverstein has also written under the pseudonym Dr. A.) American nonfiction writers for children and young adults.

The Silversteins are professionally associated with the fields of science and scientific research: Alvin Silverstein as a professor of biology and his wife, Virginia, as a chemist and a translator of Russian scientific writings. Their varied collaborations have introduced young people to complex biological, chemical, and zoological subjects. As well as writing about subjects which adolescents find immediately relevant, such as braces, allergies, food, dreams, and left-handedness, the Silversteins have covered such topics as body systems and functions, genetics, cancer, bionics, and aging.

The books are structured in a consistent format. An overview of the subject, including its various attributes and functions, is followed by a description of current scientific opinion regarding it. The Silversteins then include a detailed historical background, highlighting the various researchers who have contributed important discoveries to the field. The books conclude with a section on possible future developments and applications. They are written in a concise manner, with well-explained terms and many illustrative diagrams. The Silversteins's writing style has been criticized for its rigidity and closeness to textbook language, but it is usually praised for its clarity and suitability for the young adult reader. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 49-52, and Something about the Author, Vol. 8.)