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Something Out of Nothing
Marie Curie and Radium

by Carla Killough McClafferty

      Madame Marie Curie was born Marie Salomee Sklodowska in Russian occupied Poland on November 7, 1867. Called Manya by her family and friends, Marie grew up in a town where learning her native Polish language was against the law. Manya worked as a governess to save money and help her beloved sister, Bronya, attend the University of Paris at the Sorbonne.  Bronya would then, in turn, help Manya to attend.  It was eight years before her dream came to pass, and she was able to go to Paris to study.  There she met and married Pierre Curie and the two of them made history.

This inspiring biography of Marie Curie tells the story of how she discovered Radium and the wonderful work that she and her beloved husband performed to bring the element into common medical use.  The Curies did not seek patents, so even as they were rising to international fame, entrepreneurs worldwide began trumpeting wild claims for the healing benefits of radioactive products, many of them dangerous concoctions that caused radioactive poisoning. 

Though the Curies shunned fame and fortune to give their research to the world, both received Nobel Prizes for their work. Marie, however, is the only woman to ever receive the prestigious honor, and the only person to ever receive two Nobel Prize awards.  The Curies underwent great hardship to continue their research, and suffered slow radiation poisoning themselves by the very element Marie discovered.

This wonderful story of how one woman beat all odds to obtain an unprecedented education in an era where women were expected to remain uneducated, and to rise to the top of her profession would be a great addition to your children's library or your school's library. Archival photos and multimedia resource lists enhance this story of a dedicated scientist who tried to turn away from the world and ended by changing it profoundly. Add this to your home school curriculum, or just read it aloud at family time to help inspire your kids to reach their full potential.

The Book

Fararr Straus Giroux
March 21, 2006
Children/Nonfiction/Biography [Grades 5 - 10]
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The Reviewer

Beverly J. Rowe
Reviewed 2006
© 2006