Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, a Tale of Love and Fallout

Redniss, Lauren (Author/Illustrator)
HarperCollins 2010. 208 pages
First published: 2010
ISBN: 9780061351327 (hardcover)
9780062416162 (paperback)
9780062125576 (e-book)
Original language: English
Dewey: 540
Book type: Graphic Text
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

layout, multimodal, setting

Award

National Book Award Finalist – 2011

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

An imaginative mix of artwork, history, science and romance, this book tells the story of Marie and Pierre Curie, and the afterlife of their discoveries and inventions that changed the world forever. In the twentieth century, few scientific breakthroughs rival that of the Curies. “This new science needed a name. Marie: ‘I coined the word radioactivity.’” Their love, their scientific partnership and their findings would all prove to be explosive.

Hand-coloured cyanotype painting gives the author’s drawings their original look. The process, fittingly, renders illustrations that look like multicolour X-Rays. The technique of collage is used to present many historical photographs and documents, including transcribed interviews and newspaper clippings. Creative, multi-page spreads illuminate related topics: the photo and recorded testimony of a victim of the Hiroshima atomic bomb help tell her story; a coloured map showing the radiation effects at Chernobyl; a de-classified FBI file of a scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project.

Vibrant colours imbue all the informative material with emotion. And, sometimes, it’s the lack of colour: one ink-black spread depicts one sentence: “In the summer of 1914, war stormed into Europe.” Throughout, this choice of colours, the style of artwork and the careful juxtaposition of the facts, stories and images highlight the personal narratives that lie hidden behind the facts that make up political news and scientific theories.

  •  

    The structure of the text helps tell the story of the famous researchers and their impact on the fields of chemistry, physics, medicine, nuclear weapons and ultimately humanity. Explore the section titles and consider how each one relates to the content being presented.

  •  

    The epilogue states: “With apologies to Marie Curie, who said, ‘There is no connection between my scientific work and the facts of private life.’” Discuss the quotation and decide whether or not it is true, based on the contents of the text.

  •  

    The text presents an important period in scientific history. Choose a scientist or discovery to research. Use a production process to produce a multimodal biography. Share the finished piece with peers and adults.

  •  With a partner, discuss how radiation and radioactivity affect the world. How are they used? How do you think they were discovered?
  •  

    Before reading each page, examine the illustrations and infer what the text will be about.

  •  

    Research all the uses of radioactivity and radiation, and present your findings to the class. Categorize the uses as beneficial or detrimental to humanity, and explain why.

  • To cooperate with others
  • To use information
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Science and Technology