Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3
What did you like about the book? I am so conflicted about this book! On one hand: I have always loved the work of this mother and son, whether working together or alone. They excel at bringing little known people and events to life for a young audience. The Secret Project is gorgeous in its execution. On the other hand: I don’t know if this book succeeds in presenting the nuclear bomb in a way that children can understand and not fear. It begins with a school being shut down so a secret, nameless government project can take place on the premises. Shadowy figures conduct the work. The book ends with a countdown, four pages of explosion, gorgeous in intensity, and then two pages of black. On the “third” hand: yes, we all should fear the nuclear bomb! But this book may accentuate too much for my taste the shady, secretive way in which the bomb was conceived and tested, and the end-of-days explosion at the end is a horrific finality. The historical context is not present in the body of the book. The war and further details of science are covered in the author’s note, but I don’t think that the intended audience will understand it.
Anything you didn’t like about it? See above.
To whom would you recommend this book? Although the spare style of this book makes it look like a preschool picture book, I would recommend this for ages 10 and up.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? 355.825
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: March 7, 2017