Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13

by Helaine Becker (Author) Dow Phumiruk (Illustrator)

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

The bold story of Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race and was depicted in the film Hidden Figures.

You've likely heard of the historic Apollo 13 moon landing. But do you know about the mathematical genius who made sure that Apollo 13 returned safely home?

As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted the steps on the road, the number of dishes and spoons she washed in the kitchen sink, everything! Boundless, curious, and excited by calculations, young Katherine longed to know as much as she could about math, about the universe.

From Katherine's early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, Counting on Katherine is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.

Christy Ottaviano Books


School Library Journal

Gr 1-3---Featuring engaging text and captivating illustrations, this picture book introduces the amazing life of mathematician Katherine Johnson to young readers. Becker captures the drive and determination of Johnson through well-written text and a few puns; for instance, the phrase "You can count on me" is repeated by Johnson and once by her father. The narrative details both Johnson's joyful childhood and her fury at segregated public schools; however, in discussing the challenges Johnson faced at NASA, Becker mainly focuses on sexism. The text doesn't mention segregation at NASA, but it is portrayed in the illustrations. Becker compellingly conveys Johnson's reputation for accuracy and her critical leadership role supporting many NASA programs, including Friendship 7, Apollo 11, Apollo 12, and Apollo 13. John Glenn would not fly until Johnson had signed off on the numbers for his trip. Phumiruk's renderings help to elucidate scientific principles and bring the story to life. In addition, the images of blackboards teeming with mathematical equations that appear on the endpapers add to the book's appeal. The work concludes with additional in-depth information about Johnson's life along with a list of sources. VERDICT Sure to inspire a new generation of mathematicians. A solid addition to biography collections.--Maren Ostergard, King County Library System, Issaquah, WA

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

In Becker's biography of the NASA mathematician, readers first meet Johnson as a child with boundless curiosity and a remarkable aptitude for mathematics. Due to segregation, Johnson's family moved to a town with a black high school so that she could continue her studies. Her interest in research mathematics eventually led her to employment at NASA, doing the "tasks that men thought were boring and unimportant." On the contrary, Becker emphasizes, the roles that Johnson and other women played were essential to determining a spaceship's trajectory--a point made clear as Johnson calculates the flight path to ensure the safe return of Apollo 13. Phumiruk works in a crisp, uncluttered art style, infusing emotionality into more private moments of reflection. Johnson is pictured gazing at the moon, encircled with strings of mathematical equations: "She was no longer the kid who dreamed of what lay beyond the stars. She was now a star herself." Ages 5-9. (June)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

A Junior Library Guild Selection

"A picture-book biography of a humble genius who excelled in a career once out of reach for most African-Americans. An excellent biography that will inspire young readers, especially girls, to do what they love."—Kirkus, starred review

"Children who want to share in the Hidden Figures buzz can start right here . . . Phumiruk's digital artwork convincingly portrays Johnson as brainy and imaginative. This title is ready made for "My Hero" biography reports."—The Bulletin

"Featuring engaging text and captivating illustrations, this picture book introduces the amazing life of mathematician Katherine Johnson to young readers. Sure to inspire a new generation of mathematicians. A solid addition to biography collections."—School Library Journal

"The straightforward, informative text is paired with delicate, precise digital artwork. . . Very worthwhile book."—Booklist

"Phumiruk works in a crisp, uncluttered art style, infusing emotionality into more private moments of reflection."—Publishers Weekly

Helaine Becker
Helaine Becker is a bestselling children's author of more than seventy books, including Hubots, Monster Science, Zoobots, The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea and Lines, Bars and Circles. She is a two-time recipient of the Lane Anderson Award and a winner of the Silver Birch Award and the Red Cedar Award. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

John Bindon is the illustrator of many books on prehistoric life. He has also worked on dinosaur exhibits for museums and theme parks, and on animation projects for the Discovery Channel and Walt Disney Animation Studios. John lives near Toronto, Ontario.

Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9781250137524
Lexile Measure
710L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publisher
Henry Holt & Company
Publication date
June 20, 2018
Series
-
BISAC categories
JNF018010 - Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JNF025210 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | United States/20th Century
JNF007090 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Science & Technology
JNF007120 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Women
JNF051190 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Science & Nature | History of Science
JNF035000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Mathematics | General
Library of Congress categories
Biographies
United States
Mathematicians
Officials and employees
Women mathematicians
African American women mathematicians
Johnson, Katherine G

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