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Hidden Powers

Lise Meitner's Call to Science



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About The Book

From the acclaimed author of Finding Wonders and Grasping Mysteries comes a gorgeously written biography in “deliberate, delicate verse” (Kirkus Reviews) about the pioneering Jewish woman physicist whose scientific prowess changed the course of World War II.

At the turn of the 20th century, Lise Meitner dreamed of becoming a scientist. In her time, girls were not supposed to want careers, much less ones in science. But Lise was smart—and determined. She earned a PhD in physics, then became the first woman physics professor at the University of Berlin. The work was thrilling, but Nazi Germany was a dangerous place for a Jewish woman. When the risks grew too great, Lise escaped to Sweden, where she continued the experiments that she and her laboratory partner had worked on for years. Her efforts led to the discovery of nuclear fission and altered the course of history.

Only Lise’s partner, a man, received the Nobel Prize for their findings, but this moving and accessible biography shows how Lise’s legacy endures.

About The Author

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Jeannine Atkins is the author of several books for young readers about courageous women, including Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed ScienceGrasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved MathStone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis, and Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters. Jeannine teaches writing for children and young adults at Simmons University. She lives in western Massachusetts. Visit her at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (February 21, 2023)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665902519
  • Grades: 5 and up
  • Ages: 10 - 99
  • Lexile ® 860L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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Raves and Reviews

* "In brief verses that paint vivid pictures, Atkins presents the complicated and often tragic life of Lise Meitner . . . the concluding author’s note, time line, and brief biographies of Lise’s friends and colleagues help ground this compelling story in history. . . a moving, lyrical tale that reveals the struggles of female scientists and of European Jews between the two World Wars."

– School Library Journal, Starred Review

"Deliberate, delicate verse describes well the blistering unfairness of sexist academia and the complications inherent in having mentors who don’t share one’s marginalized identities . . . An admirable tribute to a life that holds some timely lessons."

– Kirkus Reviews

"Atkins approaches her newest biographical novel in verse with the same clarity of purpose and ability to express the vision, the courage, and the achievements of a woman aspiring to move science forward . . . A respectful and very accessible introduction to Meitner."

– Booklist

"Vivid and poignant, Atkins’s poems chronicle Meitner’s hesitation to abandon her experiments and flee Germany after Hitler’s rise to power. . . Atkins meshes “facts with empathy” in this stirring portrait of—as Meitner’s epitaph reads—“A Physicist Who Never Lost Her Humanity.”

– Horn Book Magazine

Awards and Honors

  • SLJ Best Book of the Year
  • Massachusetts Book Award "Must Read" List
  • Massachusetts Book Award

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More books from this author: Jeannine Atkins