The Secret Project by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter

Published by Beach Lane Books

Summary:  A peaceful boys’ school in the New Mexican desert is suddenly ordered closed by the U.S. government.  Scientists arrive from all over the country to work on a top-secret project known simply as “The Gadget”.  Other workers don’t know what the scientists are working on, and the outside world has no idea their project even exists.  The scientists work long at hard, trying to figure out how to split atoms from uranium and plutonium.  At last, The Gadget is ready.  It’s placed on a stand in the middle of the desert, then the scientists drive far away.  The countdown begins…10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.  A huge fireball erupts, turning into a gigantic orange mushroom cloud .  The text ends with  two blank black pages.  Includes an author’s note giving more history of the Manhattan Project, and a list for further reading.  40 pages; grades 2-5.

Pros:  Mother-son team Jeanette and Jonah Winter have created a remarkable book, giving a brief history of the Manhattan Project in a way that is accessible for elementary school kids.  The illustrations convey the air of secrecy about the project, showing the scientists as black shadows throughout the story.  

Cons:  All the scientists portrayed are men. In reality, quite a few women scientists and mathematicians worked on the Manhattan Project.

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