Caroline's Comets: A True Story
by Emily Arnold McCully
Emily Arnold McCully illuminates the accomplishments of Caroline Herschel, the first woman to discover a comet and the first woman to be paid for her scientific research. Born in 1750 in German-speaking Hanover to a family of musicians, scarred by childhood illness, and trained to perform domestic tasks seems an unlikely beginning for a scientist. The picture book uses historical documents, including Herschel's diary to introduce young readers to this remarkable collaborator, astronomer, and professional scientist.
Her life was far from glamorous and included such tasks as sifting horse manure needed for creating the telescope's mirror, endless hours supporting her brother as he polished the mirror with pitch, impaling her leg on the iron hook used to anchor the twenty-foot telescope and then removing the hook herself ! McCully does not shy away from depicting Caroline's stunted stature and her pock-marked complexion. Notwithstanding obstacles, she persevered in her work to "sweep for comets."
Trudy's Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm
by Sue Macy Ill by Matt Collins
Sue Macy's Trudy's Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm puts to rest the notion that nonfiction is dull. Although the title of the book makes it clear that the outcome of Gertrude Ederle's swim is known, Macy's skillful handling of the event makes gripping reading. The story is expertly framed, opening with Trudy beginning her swim through the choppy waters of the English Channel. Well-chosen verbs move the storyline forward at a pace mimicking traversing through rough seas. She seamlessly flashes back to Ederle's history as an athlete before returning to the contest in treacherous waters. The narrative pacing is excellent, providing fascinating details but never losing focus on the race in the water. The use of actual dialog accentuates the narrative's growing tension.
Finally someone shouted, "Come on, girl, come out!"
But Trudy, who was as determined as ever to finish, yelled back, "What for?"