Myra here.

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:

  1. Stories of exile and movement from one place to another – either by choice or by circumstance

  2. Narratives on im/migrants, belonging and exclusion

  3. Tales of people who are in transition and displaced from their homes

  4. Stories of seeking refuge and sanctuary and finding forever homes

  5. 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

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

2 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] The Queen Of Physics Is An Asian Immigrant Woman

  1. Thank you for this beautiful review of Queen of Physics! We really do still have so much work to do to encourage girls to go into STEM fields.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Teresa Robeson 何顥思 and commented:
    I love this wonderful review of Queen of Physics!

    Liked by 1 person

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