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.
Joanne Simpson (1923 2010), the first woman to receive a doctorate in meteorology, is the subject of this profile. Enlivening simply relayed cloud facts ("Just like people, cumulus clouds are born, grow, and die. But unlike people, they exist for no longer than two hours"), Nickel threads the well-paced tale with myriad weather-related metaphors, as Simpson faces first her mother's neglect and abuse, and later derision from men in academia. Perez Garcia's bold strokes of vibrant gouache create dimensional compositions and occasional surreal evocations of Simpson's life: when "the men at the university" laugh at her plans, white clouds swath Simpson's face, as her sanguine dress pops, aptly representing her resolve. An energetic, compassionate examination of a determined researcher who left her mark on the field of atmospheric sciences. Back matter includes an author's note, b&w photographs, and a timeline of Simpson's life. Ages 6 9.