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Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science Hardcover – September 20, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—A collection of fictionalized stories in verse about three real women whose innovations influenced modern science. Maria Merian (1647–1717) was captivated by the metamorphosis of the caterpillar. Despite common superstitions about shape-shifting magic, Merian secretly collected and observed first silkworms, then caterpillars, to document the science beneath the mystery. She grew up to create incredible paintings of insects, including butterflies and other wonders of the natural world. Mary Anning (1799–1847) shared her father's curiosity about fossils entombed in the rocks of their New England home. Her findings were painstakingly excavated by chiseling away each layer of rock. Maria Mitchell (1818–89), who tirelessly watched the heavens for both consistency and change, discovered a new comet and became one of the first women to be accepted into the American Academy of Arts and Science. Atkins skillfully conveys the importance of these women's scientific contributions to the world, while also imagining the complexities of their lives as daughters, wives, and sisters during times when female scientists were marginalized or ignored. The verse is effective—evocative and beautiful. VERDICT Highly recommended for fans of poetry about the natural world and the lives of real people.—Patricia Feriano, Montgomery County Public Schools, MD
* “Vividly imagines the lives of three girls who grew up to become famous for their achievements in science. . . . Atkins has a knack for turning a phrase. . . . Science is woven through the narratives, but within the fabric of the characters’ daily lives and family struggles. . . . each of these three perceptive portrayals is original and memorable.” (Booklist, starred review)
“Evocative and beautiful. Highly recommended for fans of poetry about the natural world and the lives of real people.” (School Library Journal)
* “Distinguished for both content and elegance. . . . Readers are lured in by strong openings and vivid storytelling. . . . With each chaptered poem a gem in its own right, this collection will appeal to poetry lovers as well as awakening scientists.” (BCCB, starred review)
“Atkins guides readers through the themes that connect the women’s scientific quests, from a boundary-pushing desire for knowledge . . . to the satisfaction they find in their work.” (Horn Book)
“Inspirational and informative, Atkins shows how pursuing one’s passion for science, math, or any field considered nontraditional is worth the risk.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Anyway, this book is wonderful for any age and would be a great read-aloud to a child before bed. Send them to sleep dreaming of their own possible contributions to the world.
Both fascinating as well as informative, I come away with a greater appreciation for living in the times that we do. In many ways, they were raised and encouraged to forge their own paths by strong male mentors; they went on to live fulfilling and some would argue independent lives. But I couldn't help feeling that their lives were so much smaller simply because of their gender.
The detailed annotations at the back are not to be missed. Atkins knows that she has only piqued the interest of her readers with these scientists, and that they will want to know more. Finding Wonders should find a place in every library for both boys and girls to enjoy.
Maria Marian is a girl curious about the world forbidden to her as a female of her time and place. As she courageously learns through observation and painting, Maria not only learns about nature and the beauty she finds in the life cycles of insects. In Atkins telling, as she discovers metamorphosis, she also learns to cope with her changing family life, and her transforming self. Throughout Maria’s life story, art interweaves with science and alters perspectives on and her experiences of the everyday world. Mary Anning and her father find the shape of animals and mysterious creatures in rocks. Following her father’s death, Mary continues their work discovering wonders and supplying fossils as specimens. The physical fossils she uncovers meld with imaginative prose to recover that which was lost to human knowledge. Lastly, Maria Mitchell studies patterns, mathematics, and the stars to satisfy her yearning for a world beyond her Quaker upbringing on an island. Through close observation to patterns and connections, she discovers a comet and opens up new opportunities for herself and other women in science.
With poetry, Atkins melds biography with novelistic imagining. Her account of these three historic lives demonstrate the important contributions of girls and women to science. This would be a fantastic book for integrative teaching in classrooms. Or a wonderful gift for a young girl in your life.
Most recent customer reviews
This book was such a delight and a surprise! I loved reading the stories of these three female scientists and how their lives were changed.Read more