NONFICTION

All in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World

HMH. Aug. 2019. 96p. bibliog. chron. glossary. index. notes. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781328884206.
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Gr 2-5–In this current era of the electron microscope, it is difficult to imagine when the microscopic world was not only unknown but unimagined. With no university education or formal training in the sciences, 36-year-old Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723) was exposed to English scientist Robert Hooke’s investigations during a London vacation. Galvanized by this blossoming curiosity, he taught himself to grind superior lenses in order to closely examine the hidden world of various objects. He then diffidently shared his findings with the Royal Society and despite initial skepticism was ultimately elected a Fellow. Alexander’s clear text, accompanied by simple black-and-white illustrations, outlines topics such as bubonic plague, scientific nomenclature, the perils of E. coli and giardia, and the physics of microscope lenses. All is rounded off by an extensive author’s note, a time line from van Leeuwenhoek’s birth to the development of the electron microscope, a glossary, source notes, and a bibliography.
VERDICT This pleasantly readable biography of Antony van Leeuwenhoek illuminates the unexpected journey of a Dutch draper from anonymity to becoming the “Father of Microbiology.” Readable, informative, and a celebration of dedicated curiosity

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