We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
We are pleased to launch our quarterly reading theme from April to June this year on Migrants, Exiles, Refugees: Stories Of The Dispossessed. Essentially, we are on the look-out for books with the following themes:
Stories of exile and movement from one place to another – either by choice or by circumstance
Narratives on im/migrants, belonging and exclusion
Tales of people who are in transition and displaced from their homes
Stories of seeking refuge and sanctuary and finding forever homes
Narratives of loss and dispossession
Queen Of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock The Secrets Of The Atom (Amazon | Book Depository)
Written by Teresa Robeson Illustrated by Rebecca Huang
Published by Sterling Children’s Books (2019)
ISBN: 1454932201 (ISBN13: 9781454932208). Literary Award: Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Picture Book (2020). Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.
The child was a girl. A girl! What would become of her?
From the very beginning of the narrative, there is already a setting up of what the narrative would focus on: gender, and how Wu Chien Shiung would navigate her way around the world as a function of her being a girl. I appreciated the specificity here in this narrative, with the naming of the “small town of Liuhe.”
This story fits into our current quarterly reading theme, seeing how Wu Chien Shiung migrated to California, first to study in Berkeley; then later on to New York, to study in Columbia University – as she fell deeper and deeper in love with physics, particularly beta decay.
As can be seen in the image above, the book creators made a calculated effort to include these kinds of specific details about beta decay into the narrative, demonstrating a clear respect to their young readers – and rendering this book an even greater credibility.
As Wu Chieng Shiung’s scientific reputation grew within the academic community, three groups of male physicists came to her for help. Yet, throughout all these, the male physicists got the recognition that should have gone to her by right.
The above image is a very clear example of intersectionality – and what actually inspired me to examine picturebook biographies from this lens in a research project that I am heading right now in the UAE, because of the outrage I felt in behalf of Chien Shiung.
During the times when she was unable to get a job “because she was a woman, because she was Asian”, she reminded herself of what her father would say to her, and she kept on pursuing her path despite the discrimination and the microaggressions she had to contend with, and the fact that she was continually snubbed for the Nobel Prize, which should have been rightfully hers.
If you still have not discovered this book, I strongly encourage you to remedy that – and share this book with young readers and teachers and parents alike. There is still much work that needs to be done to support young girls who are keen to pursue a career in STEM.
#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 32 out of target 100