0ne ordinary autumn day, September 18, 1819, a baby was born in Paris, France.
He wasn’t like other babies.
Instead of being fat and hearty, he was thin and weak.
Instead of a normal-sized head, his head was too small.
Instead of peering straight into his parents’ eyes, his eyes looked away.
Each day his mama worried—would the baby live?
But day by day, the baby survived.
His parents named him Jean Bernard Léon Foucault.
Léon grew into a shy and awkward boy who often sat in a corner reading by himself.
At school, he was a tortoise among jackrabbits. Léon answered questions too slowly. He moved too slowly.
And he was so slow finishing his homework that most of the time it was late.
His teachers shook their heads. What was wrong with the boy, anyway?
Léon passed his classes only with the help of his devoted mama.
Then Léon discovered that he had a talent for building things.
First he made a model boat, and then an optical telegraph just like the one on top of the neighboring Saint Sulpice Church.
Even though Léon’s slowpoke ways got him in trouble at school, working slowly and precisely at home allowed him to make things exactly the way he wanted them to be.
Soon, family and friends marveled over the quiet boy’s clever inventions and magnificent contraptions.
Excerpted from Come See the Earth Turn by Lori Mortensen. Copyright © 2010 by Lori Mortensen. Excerpted by permission of Tricycle Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.