Rosalind Looked Closer: An Unsung Hero of Molecular Science (Lisa Gerin)

Hello, friends! March kicks off Women’s History Month, and we are celebrating with today’s book, Rosalind Looked Closer: An Unsung Hero of Molecular Science, written by Lisa Gerin and illustrated by Chiara Fedele.

Growing up in 1920’s London, Rosalind Franklin was told that girls can’t be scientists, most frequently by her father. Yet her mother encouraged her, and Rosalind’s curiosity could not be contained. All through her younger years, then high school and college, Rosalind continued to study chemistry and crystallography, and produced research that led to safer gas masks. While working in the then cutting-edge field of X-ray diffraction, Rosalind took Photo 51, the first proof of the double-helix model of DNA. However, her lab partner showed the photo to two other researchers without Rosalind’s permission, and the three men wrote a paper taking credit for Rosalind’s discovery. Rosalind was crushed, yet she kept working tirelessly to better understand DNA and RNA, leading to advances in vaccines against diseases. After all, Rosalind wasn’t a scientist for the acclaim; she wanted to help the world.

Fantastic. I’ll be honest, any book that exposes the absolute crime of how Franklin’s contributions to science were stolen and/or forgotten is likely to get a good review from me. Yet beyond this, Gerin and Fedele tell a reverent and poignant story about a brilliant mind who cared most about how scientific discovery could change the world. The artwork is highly atmospheric, using color and light to establish mood and reinforce themes (the scene of Wilkins, Watson, and Crick discussing Franklin’s Photo 51 in what appears to be an academic club or pub, where Rosalind would not have been welcome, is brilliant). The length and subject matter are best for older elementary readers, but JJ and I both enjoyed our read. An important book about a too-long forgotten hero of the scientific world, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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