Hello, friends! Our book today is Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson, written by Sandra Nickel and illustrated by Helena Perez Garcia, a enthralling tale of a groundbreaking and sky-shaking scientist.
A difficult childhood often sent young Joanne Simpson out on boats (and eventually, up in planes) to find solace and serenity. It was during these early explorations that she found her love of clouds, and her fascination with the science of meteorology. Proving herself to be an apt student of the field, she was hired during World War II to teach weather officers about flight conditions. Yet when the war ended and Joanne expressed an interest in earning a PhD in meteorology (which would make her the first woman to ever do so), her male professors and peers laughed at her and her studies of cloud formations. But Joanne’s passion and intellect would not be determined by the voices of others, and she went on to show that clouds, like women, are more powerful than anyone had yet realized.
Absolutely fantastic. This unapologetically feminist look at Simpson’s life’s work, which revolutionized the way weather was understood and predicted, is an unexpectedly powerful read. Much of this comes from Nickel’s evocative yet informational text and Garcia’s gorgeous gouache illustrations, which take the factual events of Simpson’s life and add to them a spirit of dreaming and determination that the scientist embodied. It’s a little disappointing how often male figures have to intervene in order to promote Simpson’s success; however, the delicate yet honest treatment of her relationship with an emotionally-abusive mother is appreciated, as most picture book biographies can gloss over or omit these types of real-life issues when readers may be dealing with similar ones themselves. The length is best for older elementary readers, but JJ really liked this one, especially the artwork. A stirring and inspirational story of a lesser-known feminist icon, and we loved it. 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.)