by Jonah Winter and Jeanette Winter
Beach Lane Books
Mother-son team Jonah and Jeanette Winter bring to life one of the most secretive scientific projects in history--the creation of the atomic bomb--in this powerful and moving picture book.
At a former boy's school in the remote desert of New Mexico, the world's greatest scientists have gathered to work on the "Gadget," an invention so dangerous and classified they cannot even call it by its real name. They work hard, surrounded by top security and sworn to secrecy, until finally they take their creation far out into the desert to test it, and afterward the world will never be the same.
"A picture book takes on the creation of the atomic bomb. "In the beginning," the story opens, with overtones of Genesis, and it does, indeed, become a story of creation and elemental powers of the universe. The first two pages suggest a Roxaboxen-style celebration of a desert playscape, but then the secret project--the Manhattan Project--unfolds. The local boys' school is closed, scientists arrive at a place that doesn't even really exist yet, and shadowy figures get to work creating a "Gadget" of enormous power. Ingeniously, Jeanette Winter's illustrations balance the dark, cloaked secrecy of Los Alamos, signified by silhouetted figures viewed through windows, with the bright beauty of the outer world--the mesas, cacti, coyotes, prairie dogs, and desert mountains; Hopi artists carving dolls out of wood "as they have done for centuries;" and Georgia O'Keefe painting a gorgeous desert scene. Jonah Winter's text is eloquent, and his mother's acrylic-and-pen illustrations evoke a beautiful landscape in danger if the scientists' contraption works. When the bomb explodes, the monstrous mushroom cloud grows over four pages, concluding with a pitch-black double-page spread and no further text, which will leave young readers eager to know more. An informative author's note will help adults provide the historical context. An astonishing way to lay the groundwork for such works for older readers as Steve Sheinkin's Bomb (2012), this is a beautifully told introduction to a difficult subject."--Kirkus Reviews
Jonah Winter is the author of more than thirty celebrated nonfiction picture books including Diego, The Secret Project, and Oil, illustrated by Jeanette Winter; Jazz Age Josephine, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman; Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez; The Founding Fathers! illustrated by Barry Blitt; and Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, illustrated by Shane W. Evans.
Jeanette Winter is a celebrated picture book creator whose acclaimed works include Diego; Oil; and The Secret Project, all written by Jonah Winter, and her own Sisters: Venus & Serena Williams; The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid; Nanuk the Ice Bear; Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery; Henri's Scissors; Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia; Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan; and The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq.