Monday, December 19, 2011

Review: Marie Curie

Marie Curie
Marie Curie by Nick Healy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the most famous woman scientists of all time, Marie Curie was scholastically gifted from a very young age. Enduring hardships her entire life (growing up in poverty in Russia-controlled Poland, having family members die of illness), she nonetheless never gave up on her passions and dreams of contributing to the community of scientific knowledge. She and her husband Pierre (who she met after moving from her native Poland to France) made an unstoppable scientific team, making huge strides in understanding the atom, coining the term 'radioactive,' and winning the Nobel Prize in 1903. After her husband is tragically killed by a horse and carriage, Marie takes over his teaching position and continues her research on radium. She won a second Nobel Prize in 1911, this one for chemistry, but also lost an election to the French Academy of Sciences by two votes, because many people railed against a woman being a part of such a prestigious organization. Marie didn't let that discourage her from continuing her research. Unfortunately, it is this passion for her work, for scientific knowledge, and for her newly discovered radiation that is her undoing. All the exposure to radiation that she endures gives her leukemia, which she succumbs to at the age of 66. Her story is an inspiring one of overcoming adversity and public opinion. The book has large pages, and every other page is a photograph, which makes for a visually appealing book. Each page also has a quote about Marie Curie, usually from people who knew her, including Albert Einstein. Along the bottoms of the pages are important events in her life in a timeline, and the last part of the book contains excerpts from a reluctantly-written autobiography that she was encouraged to include in her biography of her late husband. It is fascinating to get a chance to read about her experiences as seen through her own eyes. There are also some end notes that define terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader, and an index. Recommended for grades 3-5.

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