2015 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: Bomb by Steve Sheinkin

bombFor the past couple of months, WGN America has been blasting TV viewers with previews of its newest series, Manhattan, a drama set in a secret New Mexico town in 1943, the time of the Manhattan project. Although I have not been tuning in, I hear that 2.2 million viewers have tuned into the first episode. While historical figures are referenced, fictional characters are the focus of this historical series.

Those who would like to brush up on the facts of the Manhattan Project would do well to read the informational text Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. 

When I first read Bomb in January, it took me a couple of weeks to get through it because there is so much to digest inside, and I really wanted to take my time thinking about it. The time spent conducting research for such a thorough work must have been fascinating and probably grueling at times. What I liked best was how Sheinkin conveyed the personalities of the people involved in the bomb’s making and use and of those who sought to buy, sell, and trade its secrets. And so it was really a story of the people of the bomb rather than of the bomb itself.

Bomb is definitely one of the most challenging books on this year’s Caudill list. Although Sheinkin spends time explaining the historical context of the Manhattan Project and provides background information about World War II, Bomb‘s in-depth treatment of the political and scientific ramifications of the project demands close and careful reading. That said, Sheinkin does as an excellent job of making the story of The Bomb exciting, intense, and even suspenseful at times so that readers will be motivated to put in that hard work. I am certain that upon reaching the end of the book, young readers will know more about the subject than a great many adults.

Awards for Bomb: 2012 National Book Award Finalist, 2013 Siebert Medal Winner, 2013 Newbery Honor Book,  2013 ALA Notable Book for Middle Readers

Fun Fact: According to his website, Steve Sheinkin is a former textbook writer who “walked away forever” in 2008 and fills his books with all the stories he collected and was “never allowed to put into textbooks.”

Other 2015 Rebecca Caudill Reading Roundup Posts




14 thoughts on “2015 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: Bomb by Steve Sheinkin

  1. Hi,

    I agree, this is a very informative book even for adults who may (or may not ) know the basic facts. I found one of the most memorable incidents recounted in the book involved a very minor person — a woman who was a spy for the communists. I read the book when it was first published and found her tiny part in the whole complicated project very interesting. As I recall, she had copies of secrets in the bottom of a box of tissues, and when she was being checked before boarding a train, she pretended to have a cold and to have difficulty digging out her ID papers. So she handed the box of tissues to the man who was doing the checking. He looked at her fake papers and waved her on, but he still had the box. She forced herself to walk away as if the box was of no real importance,. He called her back to give it to her so she’d have tissues for her cold. Fascinating stuff!

    1. That is one of my favorite parts of the book as well. No wonder Sheinkin got out of the textbook business. True stories like that one are too good to remain untold.

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