Title: Radioactive: A Tale of Love and Fallout
Author(s): Lauren Redniss
Artist(s): Lauren Redniss
Category: Science, Biographical
Grade Level(s): 7-12
Mature Content?: Affairs, some nudity
Radioactive: A Tale of Love and Fallout tells the story of Marie and Pierre Curie, the nobel prize winning couple that helped pioneer the radioactive sciences. Redniss’s take doesn’t dwell on the lives of the Curies, but also examines some of the resulting science, pseudoscience, and far reaching effects of their discoveries, allowing the reader to draw connections from the past to major historical events such as the Manhattan Project and minor ripples such as a radium spa in Michigan. The book chronicles the Curies lives from their youth through their death and into their children’s lives, showing how this first family of science lived on in their discoveries, sometimes in ways they did not want and would not have liked.
Radioactive is not a science textbook. It humanizes and personalizes history and helps connect science to politics, war, gender, and popula understanding. It would work well paired with science texts and experiments, or can provide a jumping off point for a discussion of historical contexts and a look at the origins of nuclear power. In an art classroom, Redniss’s choice to use cyanotype printing shows how medium can be used to enhance theme and could be used as inspiration for a variety of mixed media projects. Radioactive also offers a chance to examine the philosophies of science, who owns knowledge, and the commodification of science.