We often hear the word “meteorologist” and think of those nice weatherfolx on TV, right? How often do we think of meteorology as the actual science of studying the weather, though?
Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson, by Sandra Nickel/Illustrated by Helena Perez Garcia,
(March 2022, Abrams Books for Young Readers),
$19.99, ISBN: 9781419749568
Breaking Through the Clouds is the picture book biography of Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the United States to earn her Ph.D. in meteorology, who went on to research clouds and weather. Touching on what seems to be a difficult childhood, through her work with World War II planes and her education and work with clouds and wind, Breaking Through the Clouds is an inspirational STEM story and a brilliant International Women’s Month profile. Helena Perez Garcia’s gorgeous illustrations blend realism with surrealism to show how Joanne Simpson was discounted by the men around her; the men who told her “no woman ever got a doctorate in meteorology. And no woman ever will”, and the Air Force clout that put her on a plane going through clouds to research them.
Factual and straightforward storytelling, using uplifting language like, “As Joanne walked through the university, the halls were filled with jarring comments and bumpy silences. She flew her last flight and sold her boat – because Joanne was stubborn” remind readers to persevere in the face of challenges. Back matter includes a timeline of Joanne Simpson’s life and notes on her weather work. Another must-add to your biography sections and your Women’s History and STEM/STEAM collections.
Joanne Simpson has an entry on NASA’s webpage with a link to a more in-depth article about her career. For more meteorology resources, visit the National Weather Service, Easy Science for Kids, and PBS Kids.
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.com/.
Check out the trailer and other cool resources here!