Author Rachelle Burk Presents: WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD + A Chance to Win a Copy.

I recently had the pleasure of reading a new non-fiction picture book by author Rachelle Burk that introduces fourteen amazing women who defied the norms of their culture and made positive differences in the world.

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Discover 14 powerful women with brief biographies for kids ages 3 to 5

Women have always accomplished big things, but history books don’t always teach you about them. This feminist book for little girls and boys is filled with the stories of strong women who used their unique gifts to make the world a better place.

  • Women from all walks of life—Explore the amazing lives and accomplishments of diverse women like Susan B. Anthony, Jane Goodall, Frida Kahlo, and Malala Yousafzai.
  • Colorful illustrations—Bring each story to life with big, vivid pictures on every page.
  • Kid-friendly language—Learn about these important women with language that’s easy to understand for new readers.

Get inspired by the stories of extraordinary women from the past and present with this top choice in women’s history books for kids!

I recently interviewed Rachelle to ask her about this book:

WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD (Rockridge Press) is a great collection of remarkable women for very young readers. Tell Us how the book came about.

Beginning in early 2020 I was fortunate to be offered book projects by educational publisher Callisto Media (Rockridge Press). The first was an illustrated chapter book biography of gymnast Simone Biles, for their “The Story Of” bio series for grades K-two.  WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD was my fourth book with Callisto Media.

How did you decide which women to feature in this important story of women pioneers?

The publisher provided me with a list of the women to be included in the book. Most were featured in “The Story Of” biography series, which I used as resources.

The eclectic illustrations styles throughout the book reflect the many talented illustrators from the chapter books, which adds to the uniqueness of this book collection.

What do you hope young readers will take away from this volume?

What sets this book apart from other picture book biography collections of great women is that this one focuses in on what the individuals did to further women’s rights and other feminist causes. For instance, people know that Harriet Tubman helped many enslaved people escape. But after the Emancipation, she became active in the fight for women’s right to vote!

Women have always accomplished big things, This feminist book for little girls and boys is filled with the stories of strong women who used their unique gifts to make the world a better place. Explore the amazing lives and accomplishments of diverse women like Susan B. Anthony, Jane Goodall, Frida Kahlo, and Malala Yousafzai. This book will give the reader images of women taking on challenges–from activism, to the arts, to physical sciences–at a level youngsters will find relatable.

Available from Amazon in Kindle and hardcover: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1638781710?maas=maas_adg_C622824C30B4A9F2F80B1591BB129216_afap_abs&ref_=aa_maas&tag=maas

I have a hardcover copy of this wonderful book that I will give away to one winner chosen at random from all who leave a comment on this post. Share your favorite female role model from history and why you find this woman inspiring. If you share this post on social media, I will give you a second chance to win.

 

Rachelle is the author of picture books, chapter books, and a science adventure novel for children. She writes both fiction and nonfiction for ages 2-13. Her most recent Rockridge Press titles include the rhyming toddler book, Stomp, Wiggle, Clap, and Tap: My First Book of Dance, and Let’s Play An Instrument: A Music Book for Kids. For Rachelle’s other titles, or to learn about her school visits, visit her website at rachelleburk.com.

Back to School Giveaway: THIS IS A SCHOOL by John Schu Illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison

I am thrilled to celebrate a new school year with a special giveaway. I have a signed copy of THIS IS A SCHOOL by John Schu (AKA Mr. Schu) and illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison). The giveaway includes a poster dust jacket and an additional poster perfect for classroom display.

school book and poster

Here are some reviews for this wonderful book that celebrates all the things that make a school a special place.

Schu’s debut picture book salutes the school community and the positive role it plays in kids’ lives. . . Jamison’s watercolor, acrylic, and digital-collage illustrations employ a sunny palette, well suited to the text’s upbeat tone. . . . Schu emphasizes the school as a community, where growth, celebrations, transformations, and work all occur, providing a reassuring introduction to this near-universal experience.
—Booklist (starred review)

Librarian and book advocate Schu invites readers into a school community in which all voices are heard, each person learns, and everyone—and everything, including the plants in the school garden—grows. . . . This introduction to school communities shows children what happens inside a classroom via a vision of school at its best—one that leaves readers with a sense of belonging and inclusion.
—Publishers Weekly

To be in the running for a copy, leave a comment telling readers what you love about your school. I will draw one entry at random and announce the winner in September.

Two MG Book Reviews Featuring Animal Narrators

I have recently had the pleasure of reading two enchanting and original middle grade novels featuring animal narrators. Here are my reviews for these delightful books:

duetDUET by Elise Broach is an enchanting musical mystery about a bird and a boy. Mirabelle – the goldfinch narrator of the story – loves to listen to Mr. Starek play the piano from her perch on a tree outside his window. But since Mr. Starek’s sister died, he stopped playing. Until one day a boy named Michael comes for lessons. Michael needs to prepare for a piano competition and Mr. Starek is the best tutor. When Michael begins to play Chopin compositions on a piano like the one Chopin used, the music is so beautiful, Mirabelle begins to sing along. Her singing inspires Michael as much as Michael’s playing inspires Mirabelle.

This is a beautiful story of discovery and connection through the language of music. Not only did I learn a lot about Chopin, I also learned to appreciate the music of birds and the joy they get from singing. Highly recommended.

CLARICE THE BRAVE by Lisa McMann     clarice bookcover

A heart-felt and harrowing adventure on the high-seas told from the POV of a mouse named Clarice. When a mutiny occurs on the ship – the only home Clarice has ever known – she gets separated from her brother Charles Sebastian and ends up on another boat with Special Lady – the cat who ate her sister. Desperate times force Clarice to do things she never imagined, including putting her trust in her sworn enemy.

A tender and emotional journey of love, friendship, and learning to trust yourself. Highly recommended.

Both of these books are lively and fast-paced and sure to capture the imagination of kids…especially animal – loving ones.

Kathleen Wilford Presents Her Debut Novel: Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt + A Chance to Win a Copy.

It’s been my pleasure to recently read an ARC for a new MG historical. Kathleen Wilford’s debut CABBY POTTS, DUCHESS OF DIRT (Little Press) is a delightful story set in the 1870’s during the migration of Americans to the prairies of the Midwest for homesteading. Here is my review:

This historical fiction story set in the 1870’s, is a fast-paced trip to the days of homesteading on the Kansas prairies. When her parents force her to work at grand Ashford Manor, 12-year-old Cabby Potts will do anything to escape, including playing matchmaker between her sister and the rich young lord of the manor. If it succeeds, her scheme will save her family’s struggling homestead. If it fails? Cabby can’t even think about that.

Can Cabby find the courage to stand up for her family, a Native American friend, and an entire community threatened by land-grabbers?

The author does a wonderful job grounding the reader in time and place with period details and appropriate phrasing and language of the era. “My brain buzzed like it was full of gnats” is one of many similes that feels fresh and original. The characters are well-rounded and engaging, making for a quick read. Readers will enjoy Cabby’s antics and feisty demeanor as she navigates the unfamiliar world of the wealthy. A highly recommended debut.

I interviewed Kathleen to learn more about how she came up with her story.

Cabby Potts cover (no wrap)

What was your inspiration for Cabby Potts?

I ran across a book called Prairie Fever, by Peter Pagnamenta, and I was intrigued to learn about the British aristocracy’s fascination with the American West. Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt is based on the true story of Victoria, Kansas, an enclave of British aristocrats in the 1870’s. Victoria was designed as a “community of culture and refinement” where “the arts and graces of life” could be imported straight from London.

I couldn’t imagine a bigger culture clash than between the English nobility and hardscrabble American homesteaders. I pictured an outdoorsy 12-year-old girl forced to work as a housemaid at a grand English manor, and the character of Cabby was born. Trying to save her family’s struggling homestead, Cabby plays matchmaker between her pretty, romantic sister Emmeline and the rich young lord of Ashford Manor. What could go wrong with that scheme?

As an author of historical fiction myself, I was immediately drawn into the setting and era of the story. What drew you to writing historical fiction?

I love the way historical fiction immerses readers into a different world. All good fiction is immersive, but with historical fiction, the past comes alive in a fresh way. And there’s a serious side too: I believe that to understand where we ARE, we need to understand where we’ve BEEN. Non-fiction helps readers do that too, but fiction adds an important layer of empathy.

As for this particular era, 1870’s Kansas, I’ve always been fascinated by pioneer literature, from Willa Cather to Laura Ingalls Wilder. My life is so easy compared to women who endured life on lonely prairies, living in sod houses and struggling to keep themselves and their families alive.

Tell us a bit about your research process.

I like to begin with books that situate the time period I’m studying in a larger historical context. I follow that up with more specific books and then with primary sources. For Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt, I consulted homesteader journals, 1870’s editions of the Dodge City Times, an 1841 book by Dr. Samuel Sheldon Fitch called Diseases of the Chest (fascinating, trust me), Mrs. Beeton’s book on the duties of a housemaid . . . etc.! Since I work for Rutgers, I’m lucky enough to have access to the rich depth of primary materials owned by the university. I think primary sources are key not only to authentic details but to the language of the times.

Several experts also helped me with questions, and of course, Google is great for filling in details!

What amazing thing did you discover while writing?

How much time do we have?? I learned so many fascinating tidbits of information, many of which I couldn’t include in the book but would be happy to tell you about sometime. Some facts that DID make it into the book: people used to believe that walking on the prairie could cure consumption (tuberculosis)—housemaids were not allowed to whistle in the house—dried up buffalo dung was burned for fuel.

One fact that informed my book: fully half of all homesteaders didn’t make it and never “proved up” on their claims. We tend to romanticize homesteading on the prairies, but it was brutally difficult.

What message do you want young readers to take away from this story?

I hope kids will enjoy a funny, fast-paced story with lots of drama! Beyond that, I hoped to give readers a clearer picture of the homesteading life. Along with showing how difficult the life was, I wanted readers to see how race and class prejudices infiltrated even supposedly egalitarian rural America. Cabby wakes up to this prejudice as she forms a friendship with Eli, a half-Kiowa boy. She finally learns to use her “intemperate tongue” to stand up for him, her family, and her whole community. In Cabby Potts, I tried to portray a funny, feisty girl growing into more awareness of her world, with all its imperfections. She learns to use her voice to make that world a better place, something I hope we all can do.

What’s next for you?

I have some irons in the fire, but they’re pretty unformed at this point!

Kathleen has agreed to give away a signed ARC of the book to one lucky reader drawn at random. To enter, leave a comment. If you share this post on social media, I will give you a second entry. Winner will be announced at the end of the month.

Kathleen Wilford head and shoulders

Kathleen Wilford was born in Panama and has lived in four different countries and three different states—but never in Kansas. She studied literature at Cornell University and at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she now teaches writing. When she’s not teaching or writing, Kathleen can be found outdoors, chasing her disobedient dog.

Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt is Kathleen’s debut novel for kids. Connect with Kathleen at https://www.kathleenwilford.com/ On Twitter: https://twitter.com/kathwilford

Ordering info is on my website or:

Pre-order Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cabby-Potts-Duchess-Kathleen-Wilford/dp/1956378049/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2297827D9DKDE&keywords=cabby+potts%2C+duchess+of+dirt+by+kathleen+wilford&qid=1658255877&sprefix=%2Caps%2C542&sr=8-1

Or at my local bookstore for a signed copy: https://bookwormbernardsville.indielite.org/now-available-pre-order-cabby-potts-duchess-dirt

Danica Davidson Presents: I WILL PROTECT YOU: A Powerful Holocaust Survival Story for MG Readers.

I recently read an amazing first-person account of Eva Mozes and her twin sister Miriam who survived captivity at Auschwitz. holocaust bookWritten by Danica Davidson, I WILL PROTECT YOU is a harrowing and courageous story taken from numerous interviews with Eva and deserves to be shared with the kidlit community.

Here is my review of this important book:

This book for middle grade readers is a powerful and chilling firsthand account of survival from the brutal Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII. Eva Mozes recounts the time she and her twin sister Miriam spent at the camp. Since they were twins, they were separated from the rest of the captives so that Dr. Joseph Mengele…the “Angel of death” could do experiments on them. Despite the cruelty, starvation, and deprivation Eva and Miriam were exposed to by Mengele, they survived. They emigrated to the US and lived their lives. Eva spent her later years educating others by sharing her story and spreading her message of forgiveness.  While there are many adult books written by Holocaust survivors, few are written for children. It is not an easy read. It makes the reader sad, scared, uncomfortable, and angry. But it is an important book about an important time in history. A time we should always remember. Because it is through the open minds of children that we can change points of view about the world for the better and stop such horrors from happening again.  Spare and well written, this book should be part of every classroom discussion about the Holocaust.

I had an opportunity to ask author Danica Davidson about Eva’s story and how she came to write it. Here is Danica:

I WILL PROTECT YOU is a remarkable firsthand account of twins who survived the horrors of Auschwitz. How did you discover this story?

I had experienced increased antisemitism in my life, especially in my work as a journalist, and I was trying to figure out something I could write that could possibly be helpful. I was reading a lot of Jewish books and seeing Jewish speakers, and one day an email came from my temple telling me that a Mengele twin was going to be giving a speech at a university about an hour from me. This was Eva. So I read up all about her and showed up for her speech. After she talked I introduced myself to her, hoping I could maybe interview her for a magazine, but when I mentioned I’d published sixteen kids’ books, she lit up and exclaimed she wanted to do a kid’s book about her story.

Why do you feel this story is an important one for young readers of today?

Eva said the only way to really fight antisemitism is to teach kids about it in an accessible way. She said that Holocaust education in schools usually starts at 12 (if at all), and by then it’s too late because the prejudices are already formed.

I agree with her. I knew all about the Holocaust in elementary school (mainly from my dad and from reading), and it’s been shocking to me over the years to realize how abysmal Holocaust education is, and how many people know next to nothing about the Holocaust. Knowing history helps us from repeating history.

You were lucky enough to interview Eva Mozes for this book. Tell us what she was like. What was it about her that resonated with you and made you want to tell her story?

Eva was vivacious, feisty, accessible, passionate, and strong. She was a relentless educator of the Holocaust, because she didn’t want it happening again. The horrible memories had taken over her life for years, but by the time I met her, she had faced her demons and was stronger for it.     Mozes Kor_Eva_no credit

I wanted to tell her story because I recognized how rare it is for a child to survive a death camp, and her child’s perspective would be a way to reach young readers about the Holocaust. After interviewing Eva and talking with her extensively, I would write chapters at a time and send them to her for her approval. She really liked how the book came together.

What message would Eva want young people to remember from her experience as a concentration camp survivor?

Eva would want young readers to know that you can accomplish amazing things, no matter what your age. She would encourage kids who listened to her speak to go out and do a good deed. What the good deed was, she left up to them, because there are many good deeds out there and people are talented in different areas. She also hoped that abused kids could find some solace in this book and understand that healing after trauma is possible, and that if you’re abused it’s not your fault. It is always the abuser’s fault, and you don’t have to carry that trauma with you.

What else would you like readers to know about this book?

I’d like readers to know that there is nothing else like this book on the market for the age range, and it’s meant to revolutionize Holocaust education and fill a gap. Eva hoped every child would be able to read this book. She passed away fifteen days after we accepted Little, Brown’s offer on the finished manuscript, and nothing is the same without her. But I’m doing my best to make her vision happen and have this book reach as many readers as possible.

danica

Danica Davidson is the author of eighteen books for young readers, ranging from serious nonfiction to 12 middle grade Minecrafter adventure novels, to comic books, to the manga how-to books Manga Art for Beginners, Manga Art for Everyone, and Chalk Art Manga. Please visit her website at www.danicadavidson.com.

Order info: I Will Protect You is available as a hardcover, ebook and audio book. You can find a list of places to order online here [https://www.lbyr.com/titles/eva-mozes-kor/i-will-protect-you/9780316460637/]. It’s also available in local bookstores.

Praise

“The gripping story and fast-paced chapters make this a valuable purchase for reluctant readers. In a world where most people who lived the Holocaust are no longer with us, this book is a sincere and truthful reminder of this horrific event.” —School Library Journal

“Powerful… Unflinching in its first-person telling, the narrative is carried by its narrator’s passionate conviction, per an afterword, that ‘memories will provide the necessary fuel to light the way to hope.'”—Publishers Weekly

“A compelling story of survival.”—Booklist

“Bright and compelling, Eva invites young readers to plant flowers of knowledge, love, and acceptance in their own minds. Moving and informative; a powerful resource for Holocaust education.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Few Holocaust survivors have had Eva Mozes Kor’s impact. Together with Danica Davidson, the story of this young girl is narrated in a manner that I would not have thought possible, faithful to the history and yet accessible to young readers. Read this work and meet a person you will never forget with a story that is worth telling and retelling.”—Michael Berenbaum, award-winning author; Professor of Jewish Studies, American Jewish University; and former Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Holocaust Research Institute

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.

Ribbit Cover

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.

Ribbit p 6-7

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)

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.

pruett cover

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.

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.

Poopendous_CVR

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:

BAB_Poopendous_Page_07

BAB_Poopendous_Page_08

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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.

TheWomanWhoSplitTheAtom(1)

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.

 

marissa

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.