Since the publication of Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World in 2016 I’ve been asked by children and parents where they can go to uncover more information on the lives of the inspiring women introduced in the picture books. So, with whizz, pop and a bang, I am completely delighted that Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories will be exploding from the laboratory in February 2021! This is the first title in a new series of chapter books for older readers, or for readers who just want some more amazing game changing women to explore with their friendly grown-up. (Look out for Fantastically Great Artists and Their Stories in 2022.)
The tricky part of creating the picture books has been deciding what elements of each women’s story I have to cut so that illustrations have room to breathe. The new chapter books keep the familiar playful design and illustration that make the picture books so accessible (I haven’t counted them, but there are A LOT of illustrations in this book). we now have ALL the pages to explore in more detail each female scientist’s journey to becoming fantastically great …
We’ll hear more from some familiar science stars from the FGW picture books:
Marie Curie: Her spread in the picture books showing her lit by the green glow of radium is such a favourite of mine, it’s been a treat to follow her life from the Flying University in Poland where she and her sister studied in secret, risking arrest to learn. To Marie heading up mobile x-ray units called ‘Petit Curies’ that helped injured soldiers in World War Two.
Rosalind Franklin: We’ll explore the incredible Photograph 51, what life was like for Rosalind working with Wilkins, who she really didn’t get on with, and the events that meant Rosalind wasn’t properly credited for her part in the Nobel Prize winning discovery that DNA has a double helix.
Katia Kraftt: BOOM! From radioactivity, to DNA to volcanology! Peek inside Katia’s globe trotting volcanologist diaries, and watch out for those flying volcanic bombs!
Elizabeth Blackwell: The first woman to train as a doctor despite it really not being the done thing. A lady looking at body parts – gasp!
Scientists has also been an opportunity meet some new women, some who made headlines by travelling to space, some who quietly worked in the shadows to change our lives for the better with science:
Tu Youyou: A woman developing the first effective treatment for Malaria? Chinese chemist Tu Youyou did this amid the backdrop of enormous social upheaval in China. She uncovered long forgotten remedies from an ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine text to help defeat this deadly disease.
Janaki Ammal: The Indian botonist who sowed seeds of inspiration for other female Indian scientists as she became a world renowned name for her studies into the DNA of plants. She also smuggled a palm squirrel into the UK in the folds of her sari! (It’s the small details that bring these stories to life for young readers.)
Mae Jamison: Reach for the stars, and study tadpoles in space, with the totally inspirational first ever female Afro-American female astronaut. I love the image of Mae ‘dancing’ in zero gravity in space.
Caroline Herschel: The first ever professional astronomer, Caroline brushed aside ideas about what a woman should and should not do in 18th Century Germany as she swept the night sky for starry new discoveries. She was the first woman to discovered a comet, or three and became astronomer to German royalty no less. (She also put up with an extremely demanding and pesky older brother.)
I hope this new addition to the Fantastically Great Women books bring inspiration and insight to the lives of these amazing female pioneers for all young scientists out there …