top of page

Santiago Saw Things Differently

Santiago Ramón y Cajal,

Artist, Doctor, Father of Neuroscience



mit Kids Press

(Candlwick Press)

(pub. 11.14.2023) 40 pages

Ages 5-9

Author: Christine Iverson

Illustrator: Luciano Lozano

Character: Santiago Ramón y Cajal


" Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s father, the village doctor, wants Santiago to be a doctor. He discourages his willful son’s love and aptitude for art. But drawing and painting are as necessary to Santiago as breathing, so when his father confiscates his art supplies, the boy finds a way to draw in secret. He draws on doors, gates, and walls, and to the neighbors, his drawings are a nuisance. But Santiago sees things differently. He’s an artist and always will be, even after he grows up and becomes a doctor. And art helps him discover what no one else could: branching connections within the nervous system."

Tantalizing taste:

"After graduation, he had to trade hikes in the mountains for duty in Cuba with a Spanish army. In Cuba, there were tropical forests, dangling vines, and swaying palm trees to explore. There was also malaria.

Santiago returned home too sick and weak to hike. Instead he used the last of his army pay to buy a microscope for studying anatomy. When he peered through the lens, he discovered a world rich with uncharted lands. He picked up his pencil and began to draw.

Santiago drew and studied and tutored until he became a professor of anatomy in Valencia. "

And something more: The Life and Works in the back matter explains that "in 1906, Santiago won the Nobel prize for medicine. He shared the award with Dr. Camillo Golgi, the Italian scientist who invented the staining method Santiago used for his discoveries. Golgi still did not believe Santiago's findings and spent the majority of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech disagreeing with the neuron doctrine. Santiago was not flustered. The next day, he gave the speech he had planned, ignoring Golgi's criticism, crediting Golgi for inventing the staining method, and then explaining his own findings... Scientists using modern technology have confirmed that Santiago was correct."


bottom of page