DK Biography: Marie Curie: A Photographic Story of a Life

by DK

Paperback, 2008



Local notes

921 Cur



DK Children (2008), 128 pages


Biography of the Nobel Prize-winning Polish scientist whose work with radium helped to change the world.

Original language


Physical description

128 p.; 5.13 inches







User reviews

LibraryThing member alebarbu
This is a complete biography of the life of Marie Curie (Marya Sklodowska in Polish). As such, it covers her childhood in Warsaw with her teacher parents and her four sisters and brother. The first great grief of Marya’s life was the death of her mother (due to tuberculosis) when she was nine. After graduating from high school at the top of her class at 15, Marya spent several years as a governess so she could support her sister Bronya who was studying to be a doctor at the Sorbonne in Paris. Once Bronya was done with her studies came Marya’s turn to start studying at the Sorbonne. She was 23 when she arrived in Paris, and she received a master’s degree in physics within two years, and another one in mathematics a year later. The book describes her meeting of, and then marriage with the scientist Pierre Curie. They were to form an extraordinary working couple. Their laboratory work, which entailed research on radioactivity, and the eventual discovery of radium and polonium is detailed. After Pierre died in an accident, Marie became the first woman to be a professor at the Sorbonne. Despite winning two Nobel Prizes, Marie remained down-to-earth, and helped save lives during WWI by bringing cars equipped with radiological equipment to the front so that soldiers’ wounds could be X-rayed, and thus more efficiently treated. In 1921, thanks to a fundraiser organized by an American female journalist, Marie Curie received one gram of radium and a large sum of money from the hands of President Harding. This allowed her to continue her work at the Radium Institute she had funded in Paris. She died of a form of leukemia when she was 66, but her daughter Irene continued her work about radioactivity.

This book is filled with archival photographs of Marie and her family and pictures of items (such as the cover of her doctoral dissertation), places and people being talked about in the book, which helps bring them to life. Frequent side boxes explain hard-to-understand words and concepts. Many quotes by Marie Curie bring her thoughts and inner struggles to today’s reader. A bibliography at the end shows that the author researched her subject well, and her background is in science. Children can see the applications of Marie Curie’s work in today’s world, such as treatment for cancer. This biography seeks to show children the inspirational life of a woman who succeeded to reach her goals despite all odds, and especially that of being a woman scientist at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.

This biography gives a good idea of Marie’s life as a woman and as a scientist, but I think the chapters that give scientific information might be too difficult for an audience of elementary school students. Their intent is to show where Marie was coming from in her research by explaining what preceding discoveries had been made, and also what concurrent discoveries about the nature of the atom were being made, but I think they will be better appreciated by higher grades (at least grades 5 and up). However, the parts on Marie’s life are fine starting with grades 3. I did notice a couple of typographical errors, which I was surprised to find in a DK Publishing book since they are usually known for their quality.
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(3 ratings; 2.8)
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