Franklyn M(ansfield) Branley Introduction - Essay

Introduction

Franklyn M(ansfield) Branley 1915–

American nonfiction and fiction author and editor.

Branley is best known for the many science books he has written for young adults. He began writing in this genre when, as a young primary school teacher, he found few science books suitable for his young students. Branley also discovered that many instructors were not teaching science at all. Believing that young people are entitled to accurate and comprehensible scientific information about the natural world, Branley collaborated with an associate to produce a pamphlet that advised teachers on how to begin the teaching of science in the primary grades. He then began contributing articles to periodicals, and in 1947 published Experiments with Science, written with Nelson Frederick Beeler. Although Branley later taught college and served as the astronomer for the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, he continued to write science books specifically for a young adult audience.

Branley has been praised for respecting the young person's desire and ability to understand and apply complicated scientific concepts. Many of his early books, such as Experiments with Electricity and Experiments with a Microscope, both written with Beeler, are commended for their clarity and usefulness. These books let the young reader learn by active participation in and observation of cause-and-effect relationships. Many of his books, such as The Earth: Planet Number Three, present factual information and explore many scientific concepts while conveying a sense of wonder at the beauty and complexity of the subject. In books like The Mystery of Stonehenge and The Christmas Sky, Branley is able to combine scientific knowledge and legendary speculation and demonstrate that although science can answer many questions, it cannot answer them all.

Branley's books are considered by many critics to be well organized, precise, and comprehensible without being overly simplistic. His subject selection is almost unanimously praised. In spite of some criticism of occasional factual errors, Branley is generally acknowledged to be a thoughtful, conscientious scientist and a versatile, committed writer. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 33-36, rev. ed., and Something About the Author, Vol. 4.)