Two Winners For Copies of Nancy Churnin’s New PB’S.

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Last month I featured the two most recent PB released by author NANCY CHURNIN. Today I am thrilled to announce the winners of signed copies of those books.

Danielle Dufayet wins a copy of BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN: THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING.

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Jane Healy is the winner of a copy of FOR SPACIOUS SKIES.

thumbnail 5Congratulations! to Danielle and Jane and thanks to all who commented. Please send me your address so I can let Nancy know where to send the books.

Book Review and Giveaway: LET’S PLAY AN INSTRUMENT: A Music Book For Kids by Rachelle Burk (Illustrated by Junissa Bianda)

I was recently approached by a publisher to provide an endorsement for a new non-fiction book for young children written by author Rachelle Burk. What a pleasure it was to read and review LET’S PLAY AN INSTRUMENT.

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Here’s my review:

A simple, lyrical, and kid-friendly introduction to the wonder and variety of musical instruments. Burk and Bianda take young readers on a colorful and engaging trip through the world of musical instruments and the ways they are played. It’s a perfect introduction that is sure to get kids excited about making their own music. Recommended for ages 3-5.

I am giving away a copy of this charming book to one lucky reader chosen at random. To enter, please leave a comment on this post. If you share on social media, you will have an extra chance to win.

Author Annette Whipple Presents: RIBBIT: THE TRUTH ABOUT FROGS.

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Did you know there are more than 7,000 kinds of frogs worldwide? Ever wonder why frogs blink their eyes so much? Blinking helps them swallow. The eyes help push food down into the stomach. Unique and interesting details like this have become a trademark for Annette Whipple’s books in THE TRUTH ABOUT series.

This newest entry, RIBBIT: THE TRUTH ABOUT FROGS (Reycraft Publishing) follows the Q & A format of previous books (WOOF: THE TRUTH ABOUT DOGS, SCURRY: THE TRUTH ABOUT SPIDERS) and provides many fascinating and kid-friendly facts about these amazing amphibians.

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The book also includes a craft, glossary, and numerous photographs to complement the text. It is  a welcome addition to a classroom library and science resources.

You can order this awesome book here: https://www.amazon.com/Ribbit-Truth-About-Annette-Whipple/dp/1478875879/

About MeAnnette Whipple celebrates curiosity, especially through her informational books for children.
Annette Whipple
Ribbit! The Truth About Frogs (Reycraft Books, 2022)
Scurry! The Truth About Spiders (Reycraft Books, 2021) 
Woof! The Truth About Dogs (Reycraft Books, 2021)
Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls (Reycraft Books, 2020)
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press, 2020) 
The Story of the Wright Brothers (Rockridge Press, 2020)

SHADOW GRAVE: An Interview With MG Horror Author Marina Cohen + A chance to win a copy

There are many of us out there who love the spine-tingly feeling we get from reading a good horror story.  I’m not talking about the grisly, slasher fare that leaves little to the imagination. I’m referring to the well-written story that takes us to a scary place with a setting too irresistible to pass up, and keeps us turning pages even when we fear what might be around the corner.

Marina Cohen (THE INN BETWEEN, A DOLL’S EYES) has written that kind of story for the middle grade audience with her new book SHADOW GRAVE.

shadow grave picHere’s the blurb:

Tuck Everlasting meets The Village in this delightfully eerie middle grade novel about a boy trapped in a strange town where secrets turn deadly and the unnatural lurks in the night.

Twelve-year-old Arlo is afraid of fire, creepy TV shows, and even his own shadow―but most of all, he’s afraid of losing his mother to the disease that nearly claimed her life a year ago.

During a Thanksgiving road trip, a sudden collision with a strange beast in the middle of the road totals the family’s car, and Arlo, his mom, and his sister end up stranded in a small town.

There’s something off about Livermore. No one has a phone or a car, and the townspeople aren’t exactly friendly. Without phone service to make a call for help, the family stays at the Samuels’ mansion, but inexplicable sightings at night set Arlo on edge. When he stumbles upon a dark secret that the town’s inhabitants will kill to keep, getting out of Livermore becomes a matter of life or death.

I asked Marina how the story came about.

  1.  I was hooked on this story from page one. Tell us where you got the idea for Shadow Graves.

Being an author yourself you know that ideas come from everywhere—snippets of conversations overheard, strange facts randomly uncovered, interesting people and places one might chance upon. In fact, everything we experience goes into the compost of our imaginations and after time breaks down and eventually comes out as something (hopefully!) fresh and new and engaging. Several things went into the compost of my imagination over the years, including Natalie Babbitt’s brilliant and memorable novel, Tuck Everlasting, Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken, an amazing tiny creature called the tardigrade, and the real-life ghost town, Livermore. All of these contributed in varying degrees to what would become the backbone of my story, Shadow Grave.

  1. The setting feels like a character in the story. How did you decide to set the story in New Hampshire?

Settings play such an important role in all novels, but in particular, horror novels. You are correct in that they almost take on the role of a character—in some novels, the setting is the antagonist! In my free time I enjoy researching real ghost towns, their histories, and what led to their demise. When I came across Livermore—especially one particularly gruesome fact that may or may not be true—I knew this was my setting. Even its name plays an important role in my plot. I’d driven through New Hampshire some time ago and had wanted to return and visit the remains of the town in the summer of 2020 before my novel went to edit, however, it seemed the world had other plans. Despite it being a real place, and though I did borrow pieces of its history, the Livermore in my novel is a fictional—almost mythical place.

3. You definitely achieved a creepy, yet realistic setting. It really drew me in from the first page. What are three things readers should know about the main character and his sister?

Arlo has had a rough year leading up to the start of this novel. His mother was diagnosed with cancer and though the outcome was positive the experience left him changed—a more muted and anxious individual. Though he follows the series Zombie Army of Darkness because all his friends do, he much prefers the Nature Channel. He’s both fearful and fierce, but his strength lies in his calm and thoughtful manner, while his sister, Lola, can be brash and bold. Arlo follows rules while Lola likes to break them.

4. They are the perfect foils for such a story. Your choice of words and metaphors paint such vivid pictures and really set the tone for this creepy story. Tell us a bit about your writing process and how you chose to tell the story.

Since the plots of my novels tend to be quite creepy it’s important for me to establish a creepy tone. Like music which uses dissonance and irregular rhythms to create an unsettled feeling, I like to paint pictures that are slightly askew, tilting the world and keeping my readers off-balance and unsure. I write as though I’m seeing my story unfold as a film before my eyes so I lean—perhaps too heavily at times—on the visual.

5. I fell in love with your language and word choices. One of my favorite passages…

“The moon hung like a silver pendant against the velvety black dress of night”

There are so many lovely descriptions like that.  What else would you like us to know about this story?

Though this novel is primarily intended to do what horror novels should—entertain while delivering chills and spine-tingling thrills—I hope this story will leave readers with some very important life questions to ponder.

6. What is next for you?

Currently I’m working on another creepy middle-grade—this one with sci-fi undertones.

Marina is giving away one signed copy of this book to a reader chosen at random. Leave a comment if you’d like to enter. If you share the post on social media, let me know so I can give you a second chance to win.

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Marina Cohen is an elementary school teacher and author of several middle grade books including The Inn Between, The Doll’s Eye, A Box of Bones, and Shadow Grave. Her novels have been nominated for several awards in both the US and Canada.

April Book Give-away Winners…

Here are the winners for the two book give-away events for the month of April.

A copy of THE WOMAN WHO SPLIT THE ATOM: THE LIFE OF LISE MEITNER by Marissa Moss goes to: Danielle Hammelhef.

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A signed copy of PRUETT AND SOO by Nancy Viau goes to Kim B Love

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Please email me your addresses so I can get the books to you.

Thanks to all who entered and Happy Reading!

Remember, the best way to show authors how much you love their books is by leaving a review on Amazon, and Goodreads.

In Celebration Of the Pretzel by Marilyn Ostermiller

There’s no need to get tied up in knots deciding how to celebrate National Pretzel Day which happens to be tomorrow, April 26. While hard pretzels are a popular snack, the pretzel celebrated this month is the soft, chewy cousin to baked bread that is enjoyed hot, often with mustard.

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Soft pretzels are served at restaurants, bars, sports arenas and Auntie Annie’s retail outlets. Their humble beginnings have been traced to a monastery in northern Italy about 610 A.D., according to “The History of Science and Technology,” by Bryan Bunch and Alexander Hellmans.

Tradition credits the first pretzels to a young Italian monk, who was preparing unleavened bread for Lent, the 40-day period of fasting before Easter. Using a glob of leftover dough, legend has it he formed the first pretzel shape. To the priest’s eye, the shape resembled how Christians prayed, with their arms folded across their chests, each hand on the opposite shoulder. The priest treated the children he taught to a pretzel as reward for saying their prayers. Pretzels grew in popularity as they were introduced in monasteries over the Alps into Austria and Germany.

The circular pretzel may also be related to a communion bread used in Greece a thousand years ago. In the Catholic Church, pretzels had a religious significance for both ingredients and shape. The loops in pretzels may have served a practical purpose; bakers could hang them on sticks.

Soft pretzels were introduced in America by Dutch immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania in the 1800s. The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz, Pennsylvania, traces its roots back to 1861, when Sturgis purchased a house on Main Street and opened the first commercial pretzel bakery in America. sturgis house

Factory tours are available by appointment. Visitors get a hands-on pretzel twisting lesson and can observe bakers twisting pretzels by hand. 

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For information visit:  juliussturgis.com. Popular flavor combos include hot cheese sauce, honey mustard, chocolate sauce, caramel and icing.

Among the children’s books that tell of the origins of the pretzel is “Pretzels by the Dozen: Truth and Inspiration with a Heart-Shaped Twist,” by Angela Hunt and William Dodge.

If you’d like to try your hand at making your own soft pretzels, here is an easy, fool-proof recipe from Darlene. She used it in her classroom every year and the results were delicious. Don’t worry about trying to shape the pretzels in the traditional way. Have the kids shape them into their initials so they are guaranteed to eat the ones they make. I doubt there will be any leftovers.

SOFT PRETZELS:

INGREDIENTS:

1 PK YEAST,  4 C FLOUR,  1 1/2 C WARM WATER,  1 EGG BEATEN FOR GLAZE,  1 T SUGAR,   1 T SALT, PARCHMENT PAPER FOR LINING COOKIE SHEETS

MIX TOGETHER YEAST, WATER, SUGAR AND SALT. STIR IN FLOUR. KNEAD DOUGH UNTIL SMOOTH. SPRINKLE FLOUR ON YOUR HANDS AND SHAPE PIECES OF DOUGH INTO DESIRED LETTER, CIRCLES, EVEN BREAD STICK SHAPES. BRUSH WITH BEATEN EGG AND SPRINKLE WITH YOUR FAVORITE TOPPING. SESAME SEEDS, POPPY SEEDS, COARSE SALT, CINNAMON/SUGAR MIX, ALL WORK WELL.

BAKE ON PARCHMENT LINED COOKIE SHEETS AT 425F FOR 15 MINUTES OR UNTIL BROWN. THEY HAVE THE CONSISTENCY OF BAGELS AND ARE ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.

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Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist, who also writes stories for children.

52 Ways to Celebrate the 52nd Earth Day.

Today is the 52nd Anniversary of the first Earth Day held in 1970. While the idea of and complex issues of Global Warming seem daunting, there are many ways to care for, celebrate, and honor our collective home, planet earth. Here are 50.

1. The single most important thing you can do is PLANT A TREE. If the world’s people planted 3 billion trees in all the available open spaces (not taking away any farmland), we would eliminate global warming. Learn more about tree planting in your community at  http://www.arborday.org

2. Make your garden POLLINATOR FRIENDLY by planting native bushes and flowering plants to attract bees, butterflies and insects. Find the right blooms for your yard at: http://www.xerces.org

3. Find out how you can help endangered species in your community: http://www.fws.gov/endangered

4. If you see litter, pick it up.

5-9. Collect rainwater for landscaping, compost vegetable scraps, plant a vegetable garden, buy organic, stop using pesticides on your lawn.   lids

10-14. Buy in bulk to use less packaging, stop using single-use plastic bags (reusable and machine-washable ones are available online. (see photo below)  I use them every time I go to the store. You can store the vegetables in them as well. Pack lunches in reusable containers, recycle as often and as much as you can, stop using plastic wrap for food storage. Check out the reusable silicon lids in 6 sizes to fit over every bowl you own. The number one recycler of plastic bags? http://www.trex.com/recycling  lists drop-off stations in your area.

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15. Find uses for old things.

16. Turn off lights when you leave a room.

17. Eat more veggies, especially those grown locally.

18. Get a library card.

19. Leave only footprints when you travel.

20-25. Wash clothes in cold water, don’t let the sink run when you brush teeth or wash dishes, turn off the dishwasher’s drying cycle and let them air dry, use concentrated soaps/cleaners that use less packaging,use unscented products, Use greener cleaners like baking soda and white vinegar.

26-30. Ride your bike, skip the elevator and take stairs, buy things that will last, try to fix things that break instead of tossing them, eat what’s in season.

31. Buy products made from recycled materials, and gently-used second hand clothing.

32. Use a push lawn mower.

33. Buy Fair Trade: http://www.fairtrade.org

34. Carpool

35-39. Unplug electronics when you aren’t using them, shut your computer down when you leave work, print on both sides of paper, reuse blank paper as scrap paper for notes, use shredded paper for packing instead of styrafoam peanuts.

40. When you finish baking, turn off the oven and leave oven door open to heat the home.

41. Eat sustainably harvested fish to protect the ocean : http://www.oceansalive.org

42-45. Give your car a tune-up so it drives more efficiently, drive a hybrid, keep tires inflated to proper pressure for better fuel efficiency, driving under 60MPH saves gas. Consider an electric vehicle.

46-47. Buy shade grown coffee, switch to reusable coffee filters.

48. Use rechargeable batteries.

49. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program to eat local: visit  http://www.localharvest.com

50. Use cloth napkins and towels.

51. Switch to a search engine that plants trees. Ecosia plants a tree every time you search the web using it’s search engine: https://www.ecosia.org

52. HUG A TREE… these amazing plants are the reason we are alive on planet earth.

The earth is home for us all. Every little thing we do to honor our home counts.

Stay Safe and have a HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Author Nancy Viau Brilliantly Presents a New Picture Book: PRUETT AND SOO + A Chance to Win a Signed Copy

It is always a treat when a new book debuts from author Nancy Viau. I had the pleasure of attending the launch last week at WORDS MATTER Bookstore in Pitman, NJ.  http://www.wordsmatterbookstore.com

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Nancy’s latest book PRUETT AND SOO (Two Lions Press) (illustrated by Jorge Lacera) is a wonderful addition to her collection.

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Here’s the blurb:

Pruett is from Planet Monochrome, where everything is black, white, or gray; everyone follows the rules and walks in straight lines; and they never, ever ask or answer questions. But then Soo arrives from Planet Prismatic. She’s bursting with brilliant colors! She zigs and zags all over the place! When she asks Pruett questions, he finds he wants to reply…and his whole world starts to change.With a palette that shifts from grayscale to full color, this engaging story reminds us that what you feel defines who you are—and, sometimes, a friend can help you see that best.

Here’s my review:

A lively and kid-friendly story that lets young readers know something important. That it is okay to be yourself and do what feels good. Different doesn’t mean wrong, because once we get to know each other, we find things we have in common. Whether it’s blending in or standing out in a unique way, it’s A-Okay!

I am giving away a copy of this brilliant book to one lucky reader chosen at random from those who leave comments. If you share this post on social media, let me know and I will add a second entry in your name.

Book Giveaway: THERE WAS A HOLE By Adam Lehrhaupt

An important book for young people in dealing with loss…please share.

Writing and Illustrating

Adam Lehrhaupt has a new picture book, THERE WAS A HOLE, illustrated by Carrie O’Neill and published by Sleeping Bear Press. They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Adam and Carrie.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra…

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An Oldie, But Still a Goodie…Artie Bennett Presents: POOPENDOUS: The Inside Scoop on Every Type and Use of Poop.

I don’t know about you, but I could always use a good laugh. And light-hearted picture books can often be the best remedy when we need to smile. On that note, it gives me great pleasure to present a book from a few years back that still delights kids young and old. A book about something all creatures have in common. POOP.

Just saying the word makes kids laugh, and this hilarious picture book will make those laughs come…along with some educational insight into the various uses for the substance no one talks about in polite company. Kick off your shoes (but be careful where you step) as we explore the world of #2!

POOPENDOUS: The Inside Scoop on Every Type and Use of Poop by Artie Bennet (Illustrated by Mike Moran) is a pun-filled and entertaining look at one of nature’s most reviled, maligned, and misunderstood substances.

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Here’s the blurb:

“Everyone poops—yes, it’s true—from aardvarks to the humped zebu.”  

Artie Bennett, author of the award-winning and much-acclaimed The Butt Book, delivers the inside scoop on every type and use of poop in his “number two,” spanking-new picture book. In hilarious verses, with eye-popping illustrations, Poopendous! relates the many, often remarkable uses of poop throughout the world while paying homage to its prolific producers, from cats to bats to wombats! Virtuoso illustrator Mike Moran gives us a Noah’s Ark of animals doing their less-than-solemn doody. So pick up your pooper-scooper and come along for a riotously rib-tickling ride. You just may agree that poop is truly quite . . . poopendous! 

Here’s a sampling of the delight found inside the pages:

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Great Combination of Fun and Facts! 

“3 cheers 4 a great poet who 
Lets kid know all about number 2. 
Artie’s 6 sense of fun 
Makes his book number 1, 
And I give it a 5-star review!” 

—Judy Sierra, celebrated children’s author 

http://www.amazon.com/Poopendous-Artie-Bennett/product-reviews/1609051904 

Artie Bennett:  author of the superfun children’s books   thumbnail_Artie_Prospect Park Zoo

The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn’t 

The Butt Book 
 

Belches, Burps, and FartsOh My! 
 

Poopendous! 

Peter Panda Melts Down! 

What’s Afoot! Your Complete, Offbeat Guide to Feet 

The Universe’s Greatest Dinosaur Jokes and Pre-Hysteric Puns 

The Universe’s Greatest School Jokes and Rip-Roaring Riddles 

ArtieBennett.com 
 

Marissa Moss Presents: THE WOMAN WHO SPLIT THE ATOM: THE LIFE OF LISE MEITNER + A Chance to Win a Copy

I recently had the pleasure of reading the newest non-fiction book written by best-selling author MARISSA MOSS. THE WOMAN WHO SPLIT THE ATOM: THE LIFE OF LISE MEITNER is a detailed, and comprehensive account of an unknown female physicist who discovered nuclear fission but received little credit for her discovery.

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Bestselling author-illustrator Marissa Moss tells the gripping story of Lise Meitner, the physicist who discovered nuclear fission. Here is the blurb:

As a female Jewish physicist in Berlin during the early 20th century, Lise Meitner had to fight for an education, a job, and equal treatment in her field, like having her name listed on her own research papers.

Meitner made groundbreaking strides in the study of radiation, but when Hitler came to power in Germany, she suddenly had to face not only sexism, but also life-threatening anti-Semitism as well. Nevertheless, she persevered and one day made a discovery that rocked the world: the splitting of the atom. While her male lab partner was awarded a Nobel Prize for the achievement, the committee refused to give her any credit.

Suddenly, the race to build the atomic bomb was on—although Meitner was horrified to be associated with such a weapon. “A physicist who never lost her humanity,” Meitner wanted only to figure out how the world works, and advocated for pacifism while others called for war.

The book includes an afterword, author’s note, timeline, select terms of physics, glossary of scientists mentioned, end notes, select bibliography, index, and Marissa Moss’s celebrated drawings throughout. The Woman Who Split the Atom is a fascinating look at Meitner’s fierce passion, integrity, and her lifelong struggle to have her contributions to physics recognized.  Recommended for ages 9-up

I recently interviewed Marissa and asked her how this amazing story came about.

  1. How did you discover Lise Meitner and what led you to tell her story?

My youngest son is a grad student in physics and he told me about Lise Meitner. He knows how interested I am in people (often women) who deserve to be better known but haven’t gotten the credit they deserve. He warned me Meitner could be tricky since her discover led directly to the atomic bomb, but she herself refused to work on it (though she was asked) and the more I learned about her, the more compelling I found her. 

2. How did you set up your research for such a complicated and technical project? What was the most difficult part?

I started by reading the two adult biographies written about her and followed up by going through her amazing archive of letters in documents, now in Cambridge, England where she spent the last years of her life. She not only had letters that were sent to her but copies of the letters she sent, so I could see both sides of the conversation. Most of the letters are in German, so I had to dust off my German language skills. It got easier the more letters I read as I became familiar with her writing style.

Two things were especially difficult — the first was to explain the physics involved clearly so a middle-grade student could understand it all. The second was not to sound too angry or outraged about Otto Hahn, her long-time partner who stole the credit for her discovery. I wanted to let the readers draw their own conclusions by simply describing what he said or did, but it was hard to keep calm whenever I wrote about him. Meitner herself was so generous and patient with him in all their many letters, even carefully explaining to him the momentous discovery which he didn’t understand at all, yet had no trouble taking full credit for. 

3. What important ideas do you want readers to remember about Lise and her life’s work?

I want them to know that she was a scientist who faced incredible obstacles, first as a woman, then as a Jew, but she was determined to do what she loved. And she did it with absolute integrity, pure science for knowledge’s sake, never as a tool of politicians or the military. 

4. Why this story and why now?

This was actually delayed due to covid (as so many things in publishing were). When I wrote most of it, Trump was president and the echoes of him and some of Hitler’s actions were positively eerie — the preference, for example, of relying not on experts for information, but on a trusted close circle. So when Hitler’s personal photographer dismissed the potential of atomic energy/weapons, Hitler agreed, rather than listening to the scientists in his government.

Now, with the Russian war on Ukraine, it seems even more timely, as the blanket German support of Hitler seems disturbingly parallel to the blanket Russian support of Putin. The German people thought Hitler was making their country stronger and that’s what mattered most. The average Russian seems to think the same of Putin. 

5. What else should we know about the WOMAN WHO SPLIT THE ATOM?

Meitner’s integrity is an incredible example for all of us to follow. She always did what was right, not what was easy.

**STARRED REVIEW** 
“Moss’ approach to this biography is notable in several ways, from the organization of facts into a very readable narrative to surprisingly clear explanations of Meitner’s scientific work and its significance. Even the back matter is uncommonly useful.”―Booklist

**STARRED REVIEW**
“A scorching profile of a brilliant physicist whose proper re cognition was long delayed thanks to sexism, antisemitism, and personal betrayal. . .A bright tale of a life dedicated to science, well stocked with dramatic moments and discoveries.” –   Kirkus Reviews

I am giving away a copy of this amazing book to one commenter chosen at random. Leave a comment below for one entry. Share this post on social media for a second chance to win.

 

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Marissa Moss has written than seventy children’s books, from picture books to middle-grade and young adult novels. Best known for the Amelia’s Notebook series, her books are popular with teachers and children alike, using graphic formats to introduce history in an accessible, appealing way. Barbed Wire Baseball won the California Book Award, Gold medal and the California Young Reader Medal.

In 2013, Moss founded Creston Books. The small press has earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Booklist, as well as awards. Each list balances picture book and older readers, debut authors and established names, showcasing the best in children’s books.