Ghosts of Science Past | Review
Ghosts of Science Past
story by Joseph Sieracki; art by Jesse Lonergan
Ages 10 and up
Trevor sleeps through biology class until spirits show him how amazing scientific discovery can be, just in time for tomorrow’s quiz.
Ghosts of Science Past is a creative blend of A Christmas Carol, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, graphic biography, and true science comics. The ghost of Charles Darwin starts Trevor off on his adventure. He explains the scientific method before warning him he “will be haunted by three scientists” that will guide him to learning what he needs to pass.
Marie Curie shows him his past, with science teachers good and bad, and explains atoms, protons, and elements. Chien-Shiung Wu continues the lesson with compounds and isotopes. Gregor Mendel covers genetics and introduces Ernest Everett Just to explain chromosomes and fertilization.
Writer Sieracki clearly knows his inspiration, modernizing Charles Dickens’ “gravy/grave” line into “There’s more Tombstone pizza than tomb about you!” (I was impressed that the ghost of present-day even has the two children of ignorance and want, an element often forgotten.) Lonergan does a terrific job showing us characters of diverse backgrounds, with plenty of reaction and emotion. The fantastic elements are combined with realistic people to make this all more plausible and approachable.
It’s a pleasure to see scientific mentors beyond the usual, as well. Each ghost has a signature color that permeates their chapter, giving events a haunting overlay. An end section has short biographies and quiz questions to check knowledge.
Trevor’s experiences are educational, entertaining, and show readers why this kind of knowledge is important. His enthusiasm is contagious. By combining major-level changes with more individual inspirations, Ghosts of Science Past makes an effective case for science education.
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
SLJ Blog Network