The Wonders of Physics Critical Context - Essay

Irving Adler

Critical Context

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Irving Adler spent more than twenty years as a teacher of mathematics in the New York City school system. In 1952, he altered his career, becoming a writer of children’s books on the subject of science and mathematics. Adler based his writings on his own interests—that is, dealing with subjects about which he wished to know in more detail. He remembered his own interests as a child and teenager, and his work reflected the assumption that these questions are universal and timeless. Never losing his wonder at the world around him, Adler addressed his writings specifically to those individuals who had not yet lost their own curiosity about the world: the young. The goal of his writings was to create a picture for his readers, thereby stimulating their imaginations. His experience as a teacher was an immense help in achieving this goal.

Adler went on to publish more than seventy-five children’s books, mainly in areas of science. He has the capacity to present the material in the language of his readers; he never talks down to them but, with the use of clear examples and analogies, is able to bring his points across. The Wonders of Physics is typical of such writing. When this book was first published in 1966, it was considered among the best science books directed toward a youthful audience. Adler followed it shortly afterward with books in a similar vein directed at the same audience: Atoms and Molecules (1966), Magnets (1966), and Energy (1970). The successful format used previously was continued in the series. In like manner, Adler has also written for an adult audience, remaining as popular with his older readers as with a more youthful audience.