Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson
Author: Sandra Nickel
Illustrator: Helena Perez Garcia
Published March 8, 2022 by Abrams
Summary: An inspiring picture book about the meteorologist whose discoveries helped us understand how weather works. When Joanne Simpson (1923-2010) was a girl, she sailed her boat beneath the puffy white clouds of Cape Cod. As a pilot, she flew her plane so high, its wings almost touched them. And when World War II began and Joanne moved to the University of Chicago, a professor asked her to teach Air Force officers about those very clouds and the weather-changing winds.
As soon as the war ended, Joanne decided to seriously study the clouds she had grown to love so much. Her professors laughed. They told her to go home. They told her she was no longer needed. They told her, “No woman ever got a doctorate in meteorology. And no woman ever will.”
But Joanne was stubborn. She sold her boat. She flew her last flight. She saved her money so that she could study clouds. She worked so hard and discovered so much that—despite what the professors said—she received a doctorate in meteorology. She was the first woman in the world to do so.
Breaking Through the Clouds tells the story of a trailblazing scientist whose discoveries about clouds and how they work changed everything we know about weather today.
Praise: “An energetic, compassionate examination of a determined researcher who left her mark on the field of atmospheric sciences.” — Publishers Weekly
About the Author: Sandra Nickel says that story ideas are everywhere; you just have to reach out and grab them. She holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her first book, Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack, was awarded a Christopher Award and was a Golden Kite Award finalist. Sandra lives in Chexbres, Switzerland, where she blogs about children’s book writers and illustrators at whatwason.com. To learn more, visit https://sandranickel.
Review: I love learning about the women in our history that have broken through barriers to make it so we are where we are today with women’s rights, and there are so many and so many wonderful stories to tell–I am always so happy when I find a new one, and this one is a gem! Joanne Simpson is so kick butt! She not only broke barriers, she smashed them, jumped in a plane, and then broke through the clouds (hence the title!). It was so wonderful learning about her and how she stuck it to the men and showed what a phenomenal person she was.
Nickel does a fantastic job balancing Simpson’s story as a meteorologist with her story of the sexism she faced during her education and working. We learn about how she used the traits that others saw as negative, like stubbornness and focus, to take the world by storm. Along with the colorful, page-filling illustrations, this book is beautiful, educational, and inspiring.
Curriculum Guide with Activities and Discussion Questions:
Read This If You Love: Picture book biographies, especially about science, weather, or women’s history
**Thank you to Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**
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