Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Marie Curie and Radioactivity

Marie Curie and Radioactivity

Connie Colwell Miller
Illustrator:  Scott Larson , Mark Heike 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 8 to 10
Capstone Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-0736864862

Marie Curie was not a typical woman of her time. Unlike many women in the 1890’s Marie worked and she was highly educated. Indeed Marie decided to do something that no other woman in Europe had ever done; she would get her doctorate degree in science. It was not going to be easy for Marie had a husband and a small baby daughter to take care of but she was a determined woman and she was willing to work hard to find a way to make her dream come true.

Marie decided that she would try to find out about the element uranium. That would be the subject of her thesis. She soon discovered that uranium and some other substances similar to it gave off x-rays. In the course of her studies Marie discovered two new elements, polonium and radium. She decided to call the energy that the radium gave off radioactivity.

With Pierre’s help Marie set to work trying to isolate the radium from the rock in which it was found. She wanted to prove that it really was an element and in the end, after many years of work, she was able to do this. Unfortunately Marie and Pierre did not know that the radioactivity was damaging their health, no one fully appreciated what radioactivity did to the body at that time.

Marie and Pierre then began to work hard to find uses for their new element. Even after Pierre was killed in an accident Marie pressed on and during WWI x-ray machines which she helped develop saved many lives. Marie was the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in different subjects and our world would be a very different place if she had not made her important discoveries.

This is a wonderfully written account of an exceptional woman who gave her life for science. Young girls will find her story inspirational and will come to appreciate how brave and dedicated Marie was. A well written text coupled with the easy-to-follow comic book style art makes this an excellent introduction to the life of one of the world’s most famous scientists.