Santiago!: Santiago Ramón y Cajal! Artist, Scientist, Troublemaker

Holiday House/Margaret Ferguson. Nov. 2022. 224p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780823450367.
Gr 4 Up–Hosler’s twin passions for science and illustration find a kindred spirit in Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the father of modern neuroscience and gifted medical illustrator. This book sketches Ramón y Cajal’s childhood high jinks with a Calvin and Hobbes–like playful energy, full of dreaming, scheming, and creative pranks. Young Ramón y Cajal struggles with his strict 19th-century upbringing, as his demanding father forces him into a medical career—a blow to his artistic dreams. Ultimately, Ramón y Cajal combines art with medicine, inventing tissue dyes for microscopic slides and documenting neural cell pathways, a breakthrough which earns him the Nobel Prize. Ramón y Cajal’s bumpy road to greatness is copiously researched, as detailed in the end notes, but the line from childhood struggles to scientific success is long, leaving the “why” of the story largely unanswered till quite late in the book.
VERDICT A meeting of science and art that urges readers to hold onto their passions, this graphic novel is a dense, funny, ultimately inspiring read.

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