Born Curious

20 Girls Who Grew Up to Be Awesome Scientists

Illustrated by Katy Wu
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About The Book

“An inspiring look at women who realized curiosity plus tenacity equals success.” —Kirkus Reviews

Discover the histories of twenty incredible female scientists in this inspiring biography collection from beloved author Martha Freeman and Google Doodler Katy Wu.

Why do galaxies spin the way they do?
What’s the best kind of house for a Komodo dragon?
Can you cure malaria with medicine made from a plant?

The scientists and mathematicians in Born Curious sought answers to these and many other fascinating questions. And it’s lucky for us they did. Without their vision, insight, and hard work, the world would be a sicker, dirtier, and more dangerous place.

The twenty groundbreaking women—including Rosalind Franklin, Marie Tharp, Shirley Anne Jackson, and more—came from all kinds of backgrounds and had all kinds of life experiences. Some grew up rich. Some grew up poor. Some were always the smartest kid in class. Some struggled to do well in school. But all had one thing in common: They were born curious. Are you curious, too? Read on.

About The Author

Helen Richardson

Martha Freeman worked as a reporter and teacher before becoming a full-time writer of books for young readers, including the Edgar Award­–nominated Zap!, The Secret Cookie Club series, Who Stole Halloween?, and Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question, which School Library Journal called “accessible and exciting” in a starred review. She also collaborated with NASA astronaut Mark Kelly on the Astrotwins books. Martha lives in Colorado. Learn more at

About The Illustrator

Katy Wu has worked in the animated feature film industry as a sketch artist and assistant art director, as well as in the tech industry as a “Doodler” for Google (creating the artwork and short films showcased on Google’s landing page), where she created the Google “Doodles” for Nellie Bly and Nelson Mandela. Katy currently works as a freelance art director and designer on various animation projects. She has illustrated many nonfiction books for young readers, including Dumpling Dreams by Carrie Clickard and Born Curious by Martha Freeman. Learn more at

Raves and Reviews

A collective biography of 20 groundbreaking women in science. Arranged chronologically, the compilation begins with Ellen Swallow Richards, a white geochemist born in 1842, who not only became the first woman to earn a degree in chemistry in the U.S., but used her research in nutrition, sanitation, and health to establish the first school-lunch program and first water-quality standards in the country. A few women who follow, such as Sylvia Earle, may be recognizable, but most will be new to readers. Each profile starts with an anecdote that describes the scientist’s childhood influences in the present tense before switching to the past tense to focus on her professional accomplishments and impact on science. A full-page portrait with clues to each woman’s focus and a concluding roundup of her major achievements, a reflective quote, and a “fascinating fact” accompany the profile as well. Freeman aims for diversity in both the range of disciplines covered and in the scientists themselves, who include Chinese pharmacologist Tu Youyou, African American physicist Shirley Ann Jackson, and Colombian geologist Adriana Ocampo. While the thematic emphasis, as the title suggests, is on the curiosity that drove each woman to pursue science, the profiles also highlight the role failure played in their paths and how they overcame such challenges as sexism, racism, illness, and disability to reach their goals. An inspiring look at women who realized curiosity plus tenacity equals success. (afterword, glossary, source notes) (Collective biography. 8-12)

– Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2019

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