A useful work of scientific history.

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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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story.

DISCOVERING WES MOORE

This story, an adaptation for young people of the adult memoir The Other Wes Moore (2008), explores the lives of two young African-American men who share the same name and grew up impoverished on the same inner-city streets but wound up taking completely different paths.

Author Moore grew up with a devoted mother and extended family. After receiving poor grades and falling in with a bad crowd, his family pooled their limited finances to send him to Valley Forge Military Academy, where he found positive role models and became a Corps commander and star athlete. After earning an undergraduate degree, Wes attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. When the author read about the conviction of another Wes Moore for armed robbery and killing a police officer, he wanted to find out how two youths growing up at the same time in the same place could take such divergent paths. The author learns that the other Wes never had the extensive family support, the influential mentors or the lucky breaks he enjoyed. Unfortunately, the other Wes Moore is not introduced until over two-thirds of the way through the narrative. The story of the other Wes is heavily truncated and rushed, as is the author's conclusion, in which he argues earnestly and convincingly that young people can overcome the obstacles in their lives when they make the right choices and accept the support of caring adults.

Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story. (Memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74167-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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