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THE SKY’S THE LIMIT by Catherine Thimmesh Kirkus Star

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT

Stories of Discovery by Women and Girls

By Catherine Thimmesh (Author) , Melissa Sweet (Illustrator)

Age Range: 10 - 13

Pub Date: March 25th, 2002
ISBN: 0-618-07698-0
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Repeating the inspired formula of Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women (2000), Sweet’s exuberant collages add both information and visual energy to lively profiles of more than a dozen female adults or children who have Found Something Significant. Along with such usual suspects as Mary Anning (dinosaur fossils) and Jane Goodall (tool-using chimpanzees), Thimmesh includes less-familiar figures, conducting personal interviews with each of her living subjects. Among them are astronomer Vera Rubin, whose “dark matter” theory is revolutionizing our ideas about the universe; archaeologist Denise Schmandt-Besserat, who identified a surprising precursor to writing in ancient Middle Eastern sites, and Anna Sofaer, who identified among Chaco Canyon petroglyphs a complex Anasazi calendar. Not everyone here is a trained scientist, or for that matter, even out of junior high. The last section is given over to six students with inventive science projects, from a low-tech method of turning puddles into safe drinking water, to proof that vegetables grown in city lots can contain dangerous levels of lead. Though, oddly, only the living are listed in the table of contents, and an account of June Moxon’s trip across the US in a foot-powered kinetic sculpture doesn’t really fit the premise, Thimmesh makes a convincing case for the idea that the thrill of discovery is a feeling anyone can have. She closes with an array of resources to help young readers get off the stick. (timeline, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)