Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Secret Project

The Secret Project

Jonah Winter
Illustrator:  Jeanette Winter 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Simon and Schuster, 2017   ISBN: 978-1481469135

On a high desert plateau surrounded by mountains there was a small school for boys. One day the school principal got a letter from the government and learned that he and his students were going to have to move out of the school because it was needed “for important government work.”

In short order the boys and the school staff left and the school was closed. Soon after, cars became to arrive and the passengers in the cars were some of the most remarkable scientists that the world had ever seen. They came from all over the world to this secret location that had no name and that did not “officially exist.” Workers arrived to take care of the facility and those who worked there.

All day, and often far into the night, the scientists worked on the device that they called the “Gadget,” and they labored to find a way to split the smallest particle in the world, the atom, in half. The strange thing about the project was that they were trying to making something huge and powerful out of something that was miniscule. The scientists knew that the clock was ticking, that others were probably working on the same problem. They had to find the solution before anyone else did.

After two years of work the scientists completed the “Gadget” and it was time to test it to see if it worked. They carried their device out into the desert in the dark of night, hoping that they would get the result that they were looking for.

With a minimalist text and colorful artwork Jeanette Winter and her son Jonah tell the story of what took place at Los Alamos (“Site Y”) during World War II. As the story unfolds, young readers will get a true sense of how vital the “Gadget” project was. At the back of the book the author offers readers further information about the development of the atomic bomb.