Manya's Dream: A Story of Marie Curie


32 pages
ISBN 1-894379-54-3
DDC j540'.92





Illustrations by Jacques Lamontagne
Reviewed by Alice Kidd

Alice Kidd is an editor with The New Catalyst editorial collective in
Lillooet, B.C.


A young girl, who has recently emigrated from Poland to the United
States, is told a wonderful story by her mother. The story is intended
not only to distract the child from the difficulties of adjusting to a
new country, a new school, and a new life, but also to inspire her to
strive for a meaningful life. The story is about the life of Manya
Sklodowska, who would later be known as Marie Curie.

Manya was born in Warsaw on November 7, 1867. She was educated in the
local schools, and her father, a high-school teacher, tutored both Manya
and her sister, Bronya, in science. In 1891, the girls moved to Paris to
continue their studies at the Sorbonne. There, Marie met Pierre Currie,
a physics professor, and soon after they were married. In 1903, she was
awarded a doctor of science degree, and three years later, after
Pierre’s tragic death, Marie took over his professorship of general
physics in the Faculty of Science, the first woman to ever hold the
position. In 1914, she became the director of the Curie Laboratory in
the Radium Institute of the University of Paris, and she subsequently
went on to earn two Nobel Prizes. She died on July 4, 1934, after a
short illness.

What is interesting about this version of Marie Curie’s life is the
emphasis on her early years in Poland—the difficulties of living in a
Poland that was occupied by neighbouring countries, and the challenges
for any female with ambitions for a career in science. The story also
covers Marie’s living in virtual exile in another country. Her
adventures in World War I add to the picture of a brave, courageous

Manya’s Dream is a fine book. Wishinsky is a skilled storyteller, and
Lamontagne’s realistic illustrations faithfully mirror the story. A
one-page introduction titled “Who Was Marie Curie?” highlights the
“firsts” of Marie Curie’s life, and a two-page timeline at the
back of the book chronicles the major events in her life. The
closing-page quotation, with its image of Marie and Pierre at work,
captures the feel of their life-work and the spirit of the book. Highly


Wishinsky, Frieda., “Manya's Dream: A Story of Marie Curie,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 24, 2024,