I've been trying to work more nonfiction into my reading habits this year. Namely, I like to kick butt at bar trivia and when watching Jeopardy (even though the trick to that is - the louder you answer, the more right you'll be) so it's good to learn things. But I also don't want to be lost when a student comes up looking for help with school research, so it's good to stay in the know and/or relearn some history.
Steve Sheinkin is my favorite nonfiction author for children and teens. He creates wonderful narrative nonfiction with engaging writing, great placement of images and in depth research. His words are never condescending to young readers, but he still manages to explain difficult concepts accurately in layman's terms. I love him.
That's why I was excited to see Bomb on the 2013 Hub Reading Challenge. I had been looking forward to reading it and this finally gave me a reason to abandon my other work (kidding...) and pick it up.
Bomb is about just what the title says: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon. Sheinkin ties together the stories of 3 nations - the US, Germany, and the Soviet Union - focusing on their quests to either build an atomic bomb, prevent the others from building an atomic bomb, or steal the plans for the atomic bomb. He moves between the history smoothly, never leaving the reader confused about the timeline of the events.
In addition to the bomb's meaning in terms of war, Sheinkin also focuses on the physics behind building the bomb, the steps taken by the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project, and the politics involved to keep the project top secret. He also addresses the heavy emotional components that accompanied the creation of a weapon of mass destruction and how they connect to our lives today.
This book works for middle school and up, possibly even younger. It's engaging and informative; I couldn't put it down. It works just as well for those looking for an interesting read as it does for those working on a project for school. I even think this could make a solid book club title selection. Sheinkin also provides an annotated bibliography which is always immensely helpful to those readers who are interested in the topic or searching for more resources for their own work. I highly recommend this and all of Sheinkin's other works. Seriously. Go. Now.
Word to the wise. Sometimes it's a good thing to think about where you are when you're reading particular books. Because I frequently - well let's face it, almost exclusively - read children's and YA books, I've grown accustomed to ignoring the stares and freaked out expressions of people on public transportation. I don't even think about it anymore. But nothing quite prepares you for the looks you get at an airport and on an airplane when you're reading a book called Bomb. Whoops.