Review: Remembering Rosalind Franklin

Remembering Rosalind Franklin: Rosalind Franklin and the Discovery of the Double Helix Structure of DNA

by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Gretchen Ellen Powers

Christy Ottaviano Books (imprint of Little Brown), 2024

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Jacqueline Jules

Buy at

Remembering Rosalind Franklin begins with an author’s note warning that this story does not have a happy ending. The preface goes on to explain that sometimes people can do extraordinary things and “never even find out they made a difference.” With this preparation, the reader is ready to understand that those who do the groundwork for important scientific achievements deserve to be remembered, too. 

Rosalind Franklin was born in 1920 into a large Jewish family living in London, England. She enjoyed beach holidays at her grandparents’ country home where she first saw a darkroom and learned how photographs were developed. Though she lived in a time when most girls were not encouraged to pursue academics, Rosalind’s family fostered her interest in the sciences. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, she worked for the war effort, improving gas masks. In 1946, she became a researcher in Paris, using X-ray crystallography to examine atoms and molecules. Rosalind became an expert in this technology which was also being used to study the genetic code of DNA. Wishing to become part of this trailblazing work, Rosalind left Paris and took a position at King’s College in London. There, she created X-ray diffraction images and discovered that DNA made different patterns. Her images ultimately became “the key to understanding the structure of DNA.” James Watson and Francis Crick relied on Rosalind’s work to build the model of DNA which earned them the Nobel Prize and international recognition. However, Rosalind’s role was not recognized until years after her death. In Remembering Rosalind Franklin, author Tanya Lee Stone, with vivid watercolor illustrations by Gretchen Ellen Powers, give a passionate scientist with a zest for life the credit she deserves. Back matter provides more information. 

This book has no Jewish content beyond recognizing that Rosalind was born Jewish, so should not be a candidate for the Sydney Taylor Book Award. However, Remembering Rosalind Franklin would be an excellent biography to add to school libraries collections. 

Are you interested in reviewing books for The Sydney Taylor Shmooze? Click here!

Reviewer Jacqueline Jules is the author of fifty books for young readers including
The Porridge-Pot Goblin, The Hardest Word, Picnic at Camp Shalom, Drop by Drop: A Story of Rabbi Akiva, Light the Menorah: A Hanukkah Handbook, and Never Say a Mean Word Again. Her middle grade verse novel, My Name is Hamburger, is a PJ Our Way selection. And her picture book, Moses and the Runaway Lamb, was a Junior Library Guild selection. She lives on Long Island and enjoys talking long walks along the water. Visit her online