Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

Written By: Teresa Robeson

Illustrated by: Rebecca Huang

For Ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Own Voices, Pint-Sized Professor, Historical Figures, Physics, Perseverance, Trailblazer, Feminism.


This is the story of a scientist that I didn’t learn about in school, but definitely should have! Dubbed the “Queen of Physics” by Newsweek in 1963, Wu Chien Shiung was a trailblazer in the world of physics.

When Chien Shiung was born, her parents gave her a name that meant “courageous hero” and instilled a strong work ethic within her. She was born in the early 1900’s, when a lot of girls weren’t given a formal education. Chien Shiung’s parents had opened a school for girls several years before, and they both valued education and feminist ideals. This allowed Chien Shiung to develop her interest in science and pursue higher education. After moving to the United States, she became an integral part of the scientific community (even if she was continually passed over for Nobel Prizes because she was a woman).

Chien Shiung was an activist, a scientist, and trailblazer for the world of beta decay in physics. Something that the book addresses which I find really important is that yes, Chien Shiung was disappointed that she was often passed over for jobs and awards due to being both Asian and a woman. But she cared deeply for her field of work, and chose to persevere and ignore the obstacles (like her parents had taught her). I think it’s really important to have this part of the story in the book because it can bring out a lot of conversation about the various intersections of Chien Shiung’s identity and how she was continuously marginalized because of them. I really enjoyed this book, it taught me a lot about a field that I’ve never explicitly studied. In the back is more biographical information, a glossary, and a list of further reading. Definitely worth checking out and sharing with a science enthusiast in your life!

This book was kindly sent to us by Sterling Children’s Books, but all opinions are our own.

Teresa Robeson

Teresa Robeson draws upon her Chinese heritage, Canadian-American sensibilities, as well as her background in science and love of nature when she writes. She has been published in children and adult magazines. QUEEN OF PHYSICS (Sterling Publishing), a picture book biography, was her debut. Her second book, TWO BICYCLES IN BEJING (Albert Whitman), released in April, 2020. Teresa recently accepted the role of Co-Regional Advisor for the Indiana chapter of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Writing and doing volunteer duties for SCBWI leaves her little time for much else, but she enjoys creating art, making soap, knitting, baking, helping out around the homestead, and wowing the chickens with her bilingualism (they are, shockingly, not impressed).

Rebecca Huang

Rebecca Huang is an illustrator from Taiwan and now currently living in Bay area. She likes to play with color and shapes with mixed media. She employs printmaking and color pencil in her work, too. Rebecca’s debut picture book, Bobo and the New Baby, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She is also the illustrator of Teresa Robeson’s Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom.

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