A useful work of scientific history.

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ATOMIC WOMEN

THE UNTOLD STORIES OF THE SCIENTISTS WHO HELPED CREATE THE NUCLEAR BOMB

Intertwining stories of the often ignored female scientists whose research led to the creation of the atomic bomb.

Montillo begins with Marie Curie, the one female physicist most people can name. After identifying, isolating, and purifying the first known radioactive elements—radium and polonium—she and her husband, Pierre, shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics. Readers may not be aware that fellow French scientists conspired to keep her name off the award, believing incorrectly that she only assisted Pierre. Their daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, would also win a Nobel Prize for her work with radioactive elements. Austrian Jew Lise Meitner fled to Stockholm to escape the Nazis, where she did mathematical work proving the possibility of nuclear fission. As World War II progressed, America began to explore the possibility of weaponizing nuclear energy, and the Manhattan Project began. American physicist Leona Woods helped perform the first nuclear chain reaction while Joan Hinton built elements of the first nuclear reactor. Montillo tells their stories—along with those of many other women—in this comprehensive work. The narrative bounces back and forth in time, sometimes in ways that may confuse readers, and, unfortunately, it ends with the nuclear bombs falling on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—it would have been nice to read something about what these women achieved afterward. Still, the book is lively, well-researched, and comprehensible.

A useful work of scientific history. (author’s note, timeline, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-48959-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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Necessary for every home, school, and public library.

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“This is the story of a girl who lost her voice and wrote herself a new one.”

The award-winning author, who is also a rape survivor, opens up in this powerful free-verse memoir, holding nothing back. Part 1 begins with her father’s lifelong struggle as a World War II veteran, her childhood and rape at 13 by a boy she liked, the resulting downward spiral, her recovery during a year as an exchange student in Denmark, and the dream that gave her Melinda, Speak’s (1999) protagonist. Part 2 takes readers through her journey as a published author and National Book Award finalist. She recalls some of the many stories she’s heard during school visits from boys and girls who survived rape and sexual abuse and calls out censorship that has prevented some speaking engagements. In Part 3, she wraps up with poems about her family roots. The verse flows like powerful music, and Anderson's narrative voice is steady and direct: “We should teach our girls / that snapping is OK, / instead of waiting / for someone else to break them.” The poems range in length from a pair of two-line stanzas to several pages. Readers new to Anderson will find this accessible. It’s a strong example of how lived experience shapes art and an important book for the #MeToo movement.

Necessary for every home, school, and public library. (resources) (Verse memoir. 13-adult)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-670-01210-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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