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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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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Like many grammar books, this starts with parts of speech and goes on to sentence structure, punctuation, usage and style....

GRAMMAR GIRL PRESENTS THE ULTIMATE WRITING GUIDE FOR STUDENTS

As she does in previous volumes—Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (2008) and The Grammar Devotional (2009)—Fogarty affects an earnest and upbeat tone to dissuade those who think a grammar book has to be “annoying, boring, and confusing” and takes on the role of “grammar guide, intent on demystifying grammar.”

Like many grammar books, this starts with parts of speech and goes on to sentence structure, punctuation, usage and style. Fogarty works hard to find amusing, even cheeky examples to illustrate the many faux pas she discusses: "Squiggly presumed that Grammar Girl would flinch when she saw the word misspelled as alot." Young readers may well look beyond the cheery tone and friendly cover, though, and find a 300+-page text that looks suspiciously schoolish and isn't really that different from the grammar texts they have known for years (and from which they have still not learned a lot of grammar). As William Strunk said in his introduction to the first edition of the little The Elements of Style, the most useful grammar guide concentrates attention “on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.” After that, “Students profit most by individual instruction based on the problems of their own work.” By being exhaustive, Fogarty may well have created just the kind of volume she hoped to avoid.

Pub Date: July 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8943-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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