Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon: Book Review

March 6th, 2013 by

Bomb-The-Race-to-Build-and-Steal_SheinkinDo you ever feel guilty when you’re enjoying something? That’s kind of how I felt when I read Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steven Sheinkin.

Bomb was my super unhealthy chocolate cake with sugar frosting, because the book is so good but so sad because of what it’s about: the creation of the atom bomb during World War II. No matter how delicious that chocolate cake is, it’ll result in a tummy ache (and in the case of the atom bomb, many lives lost).

You may recall from my earlier post about last year’s Cybils awards*Bomb is about the scientists who built the atom bomb, the soldiers who stopped Hitler and the Nazis from building their own bomb, and the spies who stole the bomb for Russia.

Amazingly, everything in the book is true — even the mild-mannered scientists who became spies (and were eventually caught). You might have heard of the “father of the atom bomb” (scientist Robert Oppenheimer) but did you know about Knut Haukelid, a Norwegian resistance fighter who was key in stopping Hitler from making his own bomb? Or Klaus Fuchs and Ted Hall, two scientists who were covert spies for Russia, but didn’t even know of each other until after they were found out? Or back to Oppenheimer — did you know that he was the leader of dozens of scientists from all over the world, determined to create a bomb that would not only be so destructive that it could end the war, but also be an amazing scientific feat?

You should pick this book up if you’re interested in any of the following:

  • Scientific breakthroughs that change the world
  • How wars are fought, not just on the front lines
  • Spies who jump out of planes and ski into remote enemy territory
  • Real-life heroes and explosions of all sizes
  • Fighter pilots and curious senators who would become president one day
  • Why people decide to become spies against their countries
  • A well-written book (including few photographs too)
  • Even a little bit of romance (seriously, a tiny bit)
  • And a lot, lot more!

— Nancy

icon_nancyNancy wants you to read this book. If you don’t, you just admitted you don’t want to read a well-written book. What’s up with that? Do you want to read a poorly written book? No, of course not. We didn’t think so.

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*Oh, and Bomb also won another little award — you might of heard of it, uh, EVERYWHERE: a Newbery Honor!

And the Winners Are…

February 20th, 2013 by

What do a giant slayer, a puppet prince, and a fifth grader at Beecher Prep have in common?

Hint: They’ve all got a special lady in common…

Well, not exactly. That lady is actually an award called The Cybils, and all three of those people are the main characters of the 2012 Cybils winners!

Sure, everyone knows about the Newberys and Caldecotts and Oscars and Golden Globes and Grammys and MTV Awards… but did you know that contenders for the Cybils can be nominated by anyone — kids included — and instead of just voting, Cybils judges evaluate, discuss, and decide as a group who wins the award? It’s the literary award of the people!

false-prince-jennifer-a-nielsenWinner of Fantasy & Science Fiction:
The False Prince: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Sage has been forced to compete with three other orphans to become the impersonator of the king’s long-lost son. With all the lies, scheming, danger, and action, he doesn’t know whom to trust.

Check out Karen’s review of The False Prince from last year where she says “THIS BOOK TOTALLY ROCKS!” — and now that it’s won a Cybil, we have bona fide proof that she and 12-year-old reviewer Rachel have amazing taste!

    Other finalists:

  • Beswitched
  • Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities
  • The Cabinet of Earths
  • The Last Dragonslayer (The Chronicles of Kazam)
  • The One and Only Ivan
  • The Peculiar

wonder-rj-palacio-book-reviewWinner of Middle Grade Fiction:
Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Find out what happens when Auggie, who’s always been homeschooled because of his deformed face and many medical procedures, has a chance to attend regular school (Beecher Prep) for the first time ever. I’m impressed with 12-year-old Ethan’s review of Wonder“IT’S A MUST READ!!” he shouted (in all caps) — while Karen takes the easy road in her review with “it’s wonderful.” But it really is!

    Other finalists:

  • Almost Home
  • Chomp
  • Fourmile
  • Liar & Spy
  • The Adventures of Beanboy
  • The Lions of Little Rock

Bomb-The-Race-to-Build-and-Steal_SheinkinWinner of Nonfiction Books:
Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

It’s a real-life science and spy thriller. Seriously, guys. Everything in this book actually happened and it’s totally nuclear. (Hehe, pun intended!) Bomb is written from three angles: the scientists who built the atom bomb, the soliders who stopped Hitler and the Nazis from building their own bomb, and the spies who stole the bomb for Russia.

    Other finalists:

  • Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War
  • Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95
  • Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World
  • Titanic: Voices From the Disaster

Giants-Beware_Rosado_AguirreWinner of Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels:
Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado

Charlotte’s dream is to be a giant slayer — but there are no giants around her quiet little village. So the answer is obvious: sneak off on a super-secret quest to find a giant! I haven’t read Giants Beware! yet, but it’s definitely moved up my to-read list since it’s won the Cybils!

    Other finalists:

  • Hilda and the Midnight Giant
  • Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller
  • Little White Duck: A Childhood in China (Single Titles)
  • Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad!

Ack! I haven’t read all of these books, and the non-winning finalists seem pretty awesome too. At this rate, my to-read list is going to be as long as Moby Dick. Never read it? It’s really long. Good thing Moby Dick isn’t on my to-read list.

So, what do you think of the winners — deserving, or was another finalist totally robbed of its recognition? Leave a comment below or send in your own review of a Cybils finalist or winner!

—Nancy

icon_nancySeriously, world. We’ve only gotten to February of this year. Nancy cleared out her to-read list just a month ago and now it’s back to dozens of titles!

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