Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Marie Curie: The Woman Who Changed the Course of Science (NG World History Biogr

Marie Curie: The Woman Who Changed the Course of Science (NG World History Biogr

Philip Steele
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 8 to 12
National Geographic, 2006   ISBN: 978-0792253877

Manya Sklodowska’s life began happily enough. Though there was little money in the family, there was plenty of love and her parents were hard working intelligent gentle folk who did their best for their children. Then, in 1871, Manya’s mother got sick with tuberculosis. At the time doctors did not know how to contain or cure this illness and when Manya was just eleven her mother died. Around this time Manya’s sister Zosia also died. It was a hard time for everyone and Manya never forgot the loss she felt at the death of her sister and her mother.

Because of her grief and worry Manya was a quiet little girl at school. She was a hard worker though and did so well that she was put in a class with older children. She was encouraged to stretch her intellectual muscles and when she was just fifteen she graduated from high school. Manya’s determination to always work hard and to do her best was something she did for the rest of her life. It drove her to work hard so that she could go to college in Paris, and later is drove her hard to get degrees in physics and mathematics when she was a student in the Sorbonne. Later still that same driven dedication gave her the energy to find and isolate radium, a new element which Marie (as she was called in France) hoped could be used in the field of medicine.

The author of this interesting and carefully researched biography not only tells Marie Curie’s story in a knowledgeable and sympathetic way, but he also gives his readers an excellent picture of what life was like in Europe from the mid 1800’s to the early 1930’s. Among other things readers will learn about that Poland was not a free country when Manya lived there, and that radium became a very controversial substance.

In addition to the engrossing and well written text readers will find a timeline at the bottom of every double page spread. Throughout the book there are also lots of excellent annotated photographs and informative boxes full of background information. The presentation is pleasing to the eye and in no time at all readers will find themselves becoming fully engaged by Marie’s Curie’s extraordinary story.