The Secret Project
The Secret Project
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Annotation: The world's greatest scientists gather in a secret town in the desert to develop the atomic bomb.
Genre: War
Catalog Number: #139568
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Illustrator: Winter, Jeanette,
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-481-46913-4
ISBN 13: 978-1-481-46913-5
Dewey: 355.8
LCCN: 2016018832
Dimensions: 29 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
A "quiet little boys' school" in New Mexico transforms into a "secret location which has no name" where scientists work on the code-named "Gadget." The palette grows more ominous until the pictures spectacularly erupt in both size and color for the detonation. An author's note supplies more information about the Manhattan Project, but the text itself, concise and thorough, stands on its own. Reading list.
Kirkus Reviews
A picture book takes on the creation of the atomic bomb. "In the beginning," the story opens, with overtones of Genesis, and it does, indeed, become a story of creation and elemental powers of the universe. The first two pages suggest a Roxaboxen-style celebration of a desert playscape, but then the secret project—the Manhattan Project—unfolds. The local boys' school is closed, scientists arrive at a place that doesn't even really exist yet, and shadowy figures get to work creating a "Gadget" of enormous power. Ingeniously, Jeanette Winter's illustrations balance the dark, cloaked secrecy of Los Alamos, signified by silhouetted figures viewed through windows, with the bright beauty of the outer world—the mesas, cacti, coyotes, prairie dogs, and desert mountains; Hopi artists carving dolls out of wood "as they have done for centuries"; and Georgia O'Keefe painting a gorgeous desert scene. Jonah Winter's text is eloquent, and his mother's digital illustrations evoke a beautiful landscape in danger if the scientists' contraption works. When the bomb explodes, the monstrous mushroom cloud grows over four pages, concluding with a pitch-black double-page spread and no further text, which will leave young readers eager to know more. An informative author's note will help adults provide the historical context. An astonishing way to lay the groundwork for such works for older readers as Steve Sheinkin's Bomb (2012), this is a beautifully told introduction to a difficult subject. (Informational picture book. 5-9)
School Library Journal
Gr 4&11;8&12; This powerful, if somewhat unpolished, account traces the development and testing of the first atomic device&12;code-named the "Gadget"&12;in the New Mexico desert. The story begins in a "peaceful desert mountain landscape," with a "quiet little boys' school" that is abruptly emptied of students and transformed into a laboratory where "shadowy figures" labor over a "secret invention." Two years later, a massive device is hauled to another site and suspended from a tower for detonation. Though the author artfully heightens the air of mystery by leaving out specific names, dates, and locales, the sudden switch partway through from past to present tense serves no evident purpose, and the comment that the "great scientists must complete their secret invention before any other scientists complete their secret invention" is too vague to be meaningful. (The author adds missing details and a clarification in his lengthy closing note: the Nazis were rumored to have a similar project under way.) Taking a cue from the work of Georgia O'Keeffe (and actually adding the artist to one scene), the illustrator places buildings and people into a series of wide, undulating, semiabstract New Mexico settings, then closes with a bang that is both literal and emotionally gut-wrenching: a countdown, four hellish full-page views of an expanding mushroom cloud, and a pitch-black final spread. The author's note ends with a devout, if quixotic, wish that nuclear weapons will one day be abolished. VERDICT A moving, nonpreachy springboard for older elementary grade and middle school discussions of the Manhattan Project or nuclear weapons in general&12;though educators will want to supplement with additional materials.&12; John Peters, Children's Literature Consultant, New York City
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
A picture book takes on the creation of the atomic bomb. "In the beginning," the story opens, with overtones of Genesis, and it does, indeed, become a story of creation and elemental powers of the universe. The first two pages suggest a Roxaboxen-style celebration of a desert playscape, but then the secret project—the Manhattan Project—unfolds. The local boys' school is closed, scientists arrive at a place that doesn't even really exist yet, and shadowy figures get to work creating a "Gadget" of enormous power. Ingeniously, Jeanette Winter's illustrations balance the dark, cloaked secrecy of Los Alamos, signified by silhouetted figures viewed through windows, with the bright beauty of the outer world—the mesas, cacti, coyotes, prairie dogs, and desert mountains; Hopi artists carving dolls out of wood "as they have done for centuries"; and Georgia O'Keefe painting a gorgeous desert scene. Jonah Winter's text is eloquent, and his mother's digital illustrations evoke a beautiful landscape in danger if the scientists' contraption works. When the bomb explodes, the monstrous mushroom cloud grows over four pages, concluding with a pitch-black double-page spread and no further text, which will leave young readers eager to know more. An informative author's note will help adults provide the historical context. An astonishing way to lay the groundwork for such works for older readers as Steve Sheinkin's Bomb (2012), this is a beautifully told introduction to a difficult subject. (Informational picture book. 5-9)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Though it's notorious now, the Manhattan Project was veiled in the deepest secrecy while scientists researched and developed the atomic bomb, and it's that confidentiality this somber picture book takes as its focus. Nearby townspeople, even some of the laborers who worked at the lab, had no idea what was going on, and the scientists working on splitting the atom can barely say their goals out loud: "What they are trying to invent is so secret, they cannot even call it by name." Jeanette Winter's marvelous, flat vignette illustrations show beautiful, detailed desert landscapes in rich colors and residents merrily going about their daily lives, but the scientists are all rendered in shadowy grays and blacks, sometimes only appearing as silhouettes. All that changes, though, when the scientists, looking utterly shocked, blow up the bomb: a fiery mushroom cloud grows ever larger over several pages, and the book ends joltingly with a spread of featureless black, before a concluding author's note offers additional information about the bomb and its ultimate effects. While it's difficult to imagine this resonating with the typical picture-book reader, the quiet d then abruptly explosive ne is spot-on, cultivating both curiosity and unease, as if this is a secret we'd rather not know. Expect plenty of questions after sharing this with children, though it's likely that's precisely the point.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 605
Reading Level: 4.2
Interest Level: 1-4
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.2 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 187741 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.2 / points:1.0 / quiz:Q70724
Lexile: NC790L

Mother-son team Jonah and Jeanette Winter bring to life one of the most secretive scientific projects in history—the creation of the atomic bomb—in this powerful and moving picture book.

At a former boy’s school in the remote desert of New Mexico, the world’s greatest scientists have gathered to work on the “Gadget,” an invention so dangerous and classified they cannot even call it by its real name. They work hard, surrounded by top security and sworn to secrecy, until finally they take their creation far out into the desert to test it, and afterward the world will never be the same.


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