women’s history: science, not silence

Today we’re looking at women who have forged paths in the sciences,
an area formerly said to be beyond the reach of the female mind!
Hats off to these thinkers and discoverers!

queen of physic cover

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom, written by Teresa Robeson, illustrated by Rebecca Huang
published in 2019 by Sterling Children’s Books

Chien Shiung was born near Shanghai, China in 1912 to parents who believed in the equal education of girls. Hurrah! She thrived in academics, and was particularly enamored with physics. To pursue her studies, her path kept pulling her farther and farther from home until she landed at Berkeley.

queen of physics Robeson and Huang

There she studied the physics of atoms, collaborating again and again with Nobel Prize winning physicists, yet not receiving credit for her work due to her gender and race. Eventually her prowess was recognized, with many accolades, honors, and “firsts” credited to her.

queen of physics2 Robeson and Huang

Hers is a fascinating and all too common story. Clear, succinct text and warm, stylish illustrations make it accessible to ages 6 and up. A glossary of physics terms is included for older readers.

when sue found sue cover

When Sue Found Sue: Sue Hendrickson Discovers Her T. Rex, written by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Diana Sudyka
published in 2019 by Abrams Books for Young Readers

Such a delightful collaboration — sparkling, lyrical text and pristine, welcoming artwork.

when sue found sue Buzzeo and Sudyka

Together they tell the story of Sue Hendrickson, an “adventurer, an explorer, an underwater archaeological excavation diver, a marine archaeologist, a dinosaur hunter, a field paleontologist, and a renowned expert on amber fossils.” Doesn’t she sound like someone you’d like to have at your next dinner party?!

when sue found sue illustration Diana Sudyka

Read the story of her curiosity-laden childhood, and how in 1990 she discovered a T. rex skeleton in South Dakota, currently the “most complete, and best preserved T. rex ever found.” It’s the one in the Chicago Field Museum, so if you live anywhere near, you should definitely read this book and it’s important Author’s Note before your next visit. If you don’t live anywhere near Chicago, read it anyway. It’s a gem for ages 4 and up!

what miss mitchell saw cover

What Miss Mitchell Saw, written by Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Diana Sudyka
published in 2019 by Beach Lane Books

Gorgeous through and through, this story of astronomer Maria Mitchell sparkles in its text, glows in its artwork, shimmers with the joy of learning, wondering, and discovering.

what miss mitchell saw Barrett and Sudyka

From her home in Nantucket, Maria Mitchell was taught by her astronomer father to love stargazing and become as familiar with the heavenly neighborhoods as her own seafaring community.

what miss mitchell saw2 Barrett and Sudyka

Immerse yourself in this Quaker household and rejoice with Maria as she grows into a world-renowned astronomer. Highly recommended for ages 4 and up-up-up!

saving-the-countryside cover

Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit,
written by Linda Elovitz Marshall, illustrated by Ilaria Urbinati
published in 2020 by little bee books

I know — you’d expect to find dear Beatrix in with the artists in next week’s cadre of women.  But Beatrix was a scientist as well, and this book amplifies part of what she did in that regard so I’m seating her among this crowd.

saving-the-countryside Marshall and Urbinati

Besides the zoology Potter learned by investigating animal skeletons and closely observing live creatures, both of which lent the splendor of realism to her exquisite drawings and paintings, she was also an agriculturalist and land conservationist.

saving-the-countryside2 Marshall and Urbinati

As Potter acquired a fortune due to her shrewdness as a businesswoman — yet another role! — she began buying up land in England’s glorious Lake District.  She farmed there, and raised Herdwick sheep, “a breed unique to the area.” Then, in order to protect the land from development’s destruction, she purchased and donated thousands of acres to Britain’s National Trust, ensuring the land would be cared for and cherished forever. What an environmental hero! Read other fascinating details of this all-around amazing person, illustrated with grace and loveliness. Ages 4 and up.

undaunted cover

Undaunted: The Wild Life of Biruté Mary Galdikas and Her Fearless Quest to Save Orangutans, written by Anita Silvey
published in 2019 by National Geographic Kids
96 pages

If you’re like me, the name Jane Goodall is as familiar as peanut butter, but Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas’ name is new. Yet their paths are similar, their fierce courage, scientific instincts, gritty perseverance, and groundbreaking conservation work with treasured primates echoing one another’s.

I was captivated by this lengthier children’s biography of Galdikas’ work among the orangutans in Borneo, stunned by her relentless curiosity, patience, and devotion in this grueling jungle home. Her work there has revealed both the beauty of these creatures’ hidden lives, and their plight as victims of reckless and rampant deforestation.

Hand this to kids ages 10 and up to read on their own, read it aloud bit by bit with kids ages 6 and up, or just check it out for yourself.  Be inspired by this intrepid woman and then determine to learn more about the fight to conserve rainforests, those in Borneo critically threatened by the global demand for palm oil — something that is not even good for us!

how emily saved the bridge cover

How Emily Saved the Bridge: The Story of Emily Warren Roebling and the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge,
written by Frieda Wishinsky, illustrated by Natalie Nelson
published in 2019 by Groundwood Books

Take a jaunty trip back to the late 1800s when a little gal named Emily grew up lovin’ her math and science classes then fell in love with an engineer who wound up landing the job of building an ah-ma-zing bridge over the East River in New York City.

how emily saved the bridge Wishinsky and Nelson

When her husband was stricken with the terrible caisson disease and became unable to continue supervising the work, Emily dove into the project herself, immersed herself in engineering texts, trekked to the construction site and explained things to Serious Construction Guys who were won over by her obvious intellect.

how emily saved the bridge2 Wishinsky and Nelson

Well-told and illustrated with pluck and verve, this bio goes on to tell us about other cool things Emily accomplished after the bridge was up.  It’s a dandy tale for ages 5 and up.

Find lots more vivid biographies of cool women in my Women’s History list here.

Come back next week to meet women from around the world creating cool art and making soul-stirring music.

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