A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon

by Suzanne Slade (Author) Veronica Miller Jamison (Illustrator)

A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

The inspiring true story of mathematician Katherine Johnson--made famous by the award-winning film Hidden Figures--who counted and computed her way to NASA and helped put a man on the moon!

Katherine knew it was wrong that African Americans didn't have the same rights as others--as wrong as 5+5=12. She knew it was wrong that people thought women could only be teachers or nurses--as wrong as 10-5=3. And she proved everyone wrong by zooming ahead of her classmates, starting college at fifteen, and eventually joining NASA, where her calculations helped pioneer America's first manned flight into space, its first manned orbit of Earth, and the world's first trip to the moon!Award-winning author Suzanne Slade and debut artist Veronica Miller Jamison tell the story of a NASA "computer" in this smartly written, charmingly illustrated biography.



School Library Journal

K-Gr 3--Even as a child, Katherine Johnson loved numbers. She skipped through school, took a job as part of a team of number crunchers called "calculators," and helped figure out the trajectory of early space flights of the 1960s, even after machine computing became a part of the process. This retelling of Johnson's achievements focuses on her path as a black female mathematician. The book devotes a spread to the civil rights struggle, illustrating how people were divided about school integration; it also shows that many disagreed about whether women should work at jobs traditionally held by men. Jamison stresses how Johnson's talent for math broke both barriers. Covering much of the same ground as Helaine Becker's Counting on Katherine, the text is relatively straightforward and accessible even to listeners not yet ready for the inclusion of incorrect math problems, such as "25 ÷ 5 = 4," used as examples of how wrong some people's assumptions were. First-time illustrator Jamison relies on ink, watercolor, marker, and colored pencil to create spreads that emphasize math concepts. Often there's a faint background of the geometric images and equations shown on the end papers. Back matter includes author and artist notes about their personal connection to the subject, quotes from Johnson herself, and sources and credits. VERDICT Another appealing picture book biography of a successful woman; a strong choice for most collections.--Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Slade explores the life of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson. Johnson excelled in mathematics beginning in childhood but was frustrated by the lack of opportunities available to women of her era. Her perseverance and skills led her to work at a Virginia research center, where she made complex calculations, advocated for her right to attend meetings with male engineers, and eventually joined the NASA space team. Slade writes in clear, up-tempo prose, well paired with Jamison's expressive mixed-media art, which presents Johnson as a self-assured figure in bright, jewel-toned clothing. Spreads also feature chalky mathematical computations, and the launch of Apollo 11--guided by Johnson's meticulous calculations--is presented dynamically across three panels. An uplifting portrait of a no longer so "hidden" figure. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Suzanne Slade
Suzanne Slade is the author of over 150 children's books, including Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, a Sibert Honor book; and Swish! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters, a Junior Library Guild book. An engineer by training, she worked on rockets and cars before beginning her writing career.

Edwin Fotheringham is the award-winning illustrator of many picture book biographies, including Eleanor Makes Her Mark, Full of Beans, Blue Grass Boy, What to Do About Alice?, and Those Rebels, John & Tom. He is also the illustrator of the Tony Baloney series by Pam Muñoz Ryan.
Illustrator website edfotheringham.com
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date
March 20, 2019

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