The secret project

Jonah Winter, 1962-

Book - 2017

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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jE/Winter
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Subjects
Genres
Picture books
Published
New York : Beach Lane Books [2017]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
36 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN
9781481469135
1481469134
Main Author
Jonah Winter, 1962- (author)
Other Authors
Jeanette Winter (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*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—and then abruptly explosive—tone 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. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Secrets seldom come grimmer than in this unsettling tale, which describes the Los Alamos nuclear lab and the creation of the atomic bomb. The mother-son team behind Diego and other picture book biographies pairs an informational tone with simmering ambiguity. Their story opens on "a peaceful desert mountain landscape," where a coyote howls, an artist (Georgia O'Keeffe) paints, and a Hopi man carves a kachina doll. After the government commandeers a private school, "the most brilliant scientists in the world" arrive to take up nighttime research, their twilit activities contrasting with sunny New Mexico settings in ochre, pink, violet, and sage. Jonah Winter repeatedly refers to "shadowy figures" at work on a mysterious "Gadget," and Jeanette Winter pictures them as anonymous, steel-gray silhouettes. When the men gather in a bunker to test the Gadget, the narration disappears. In a chilling wordless sequence with a drab, light-sucking background, a white-gold and blood-red mushroom cloud blossoms, followed by an empty spread in glossy black. An author's note explains what happened next. Sure to spark conversation about ethics and the use of nuclear weaponry, this powerful book demands a wide readership. Ages 5–8. (Feb.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 4–8—This powerful, if somewhat unpolished, account traces the development and testing of the first atomic device—code-named the "Gadget"—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—though educators will want to supplement with additional materials.—John Peters, Children's Literature Consultant, New York City Copyright 2016 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Describes the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory and the development and testing of the first atomic bomb.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"The world's greatest scientists gather in a secret town in the desert to develop the atomic bomb."--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A picture book account of the classified scientific project to create the atomic bomb describes how during World War II the world's greatest scientists gathered at a remote location in the desert of New Mexico, where their innovations profoundly changed the world. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

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.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

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.