cover image Santiago! Santiago Ramón y Cajal! Artist, Scientist, Troublemaker

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

Jay Hosler. Holiday House/Ferguson, $22.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8234-5036-7

Hosler (The Way of the Hive) energetically captures the early life and eventual success of Nobel Prize–winning Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852–1934) in this buoyant graphic novel biography. In 19th-century Ayerbe, Spain, a rambunctious and persistent Ramón y Cajal relentlessly pursues a career in art, despite his doctor father’s wish he’d use his intellect to practice medicine. Ramón y Cajal’s mischievous exploits to gather art materials leave him vilified in the eyes of adult citizens and his boarding school administration, especially for roping his friends and little brother, Pedro, into his schemes. After being sent to a Catholic school run by priests, where he endured flogging and nights without food, Ramón y Cajal attended medical school, became a doctor, and used his love of art to illustrate how the brain works. Full-color illustrations portraying animated facial expressions and kinetic action rendered in exaggerated lines imbues Ramón y Cajal’s hardships with good humor and playfulness. Well-researched and packed with tongue-in-cheek hijinks, Hosler delivers a witty and earnest depiction of a boy who wholeheartedly believes that art can help people see the world and change the way one thinks. Source notes and a bibliography conclude. Ages 8–12. (Nov.)