cover image Marie Curie

Marie Curie

Leonard Everett Fisher. MacMillan Publishing Company, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-735375-4

In what is hardly among his most scintillating books, Fisher (Gutenberg; Kinderdike) offers a rather dry chronicle of the life of Marie Curie, who was born Manya Sklodowska in Warsaw in 1867. After working as a governess, Marie fulfilled a youthful dream in 1891, when she enrolled as a physics student at the Sorbonne-the first and only woman student. Living in poverty, she conducted much of her research in a laboratory she shared with the noted scientist Pierre Curie. The two continued to work together after their marriage in 1895, and in 1898 announced their discovery of radium. Marie was awarded a doctor of physical science degree and eventually, with her husband, received the Nobel Prize in physics. After Pierre's death in 1906, Marie took over his duties at the Sorbonne but, because she was a woman, was not allowed to become a member of the French Academy of Science. During WWI, Marie and her daughter drove a truck loaded with X-ray and radium therapy equipment onto the battlefields of France, where they treated wounded soldiers. Ironically, the scientist's chronic ailments-and her death in 1934-were caused by her extensive exposure to radiation. Fisher's expert but somber black-and-white acrylic paintings do little to relieve the generally melancholy tenor of the text. Ages 7-11. (Sept.)