Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer

by Traci Sorell (Author) Natasha Donovan (Illustrator)

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecraft as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation's first female engineer. Find out how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.

Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan trace Ross's journey from being the only girl in a high school math class to becoming a teacher to pursuing an engineering degree, joining the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed, and being a mentor for Native Americans and young women interested in engineering. In addition, the narrative highlights Cherokee values including education, working cooperatively, remaining humble, and helping ensure equal opportunity and education for all.

"A stellar addition to the genre that will launch careers and inspire for generations, it deserves space alongside stories of other world leaders and innovators." -- starred, Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Liftoff. A biography that lands beyond the stars! 

School Library Journal

Gr 2-5—Mary Golda Ross (1908-2008), a member of the Cherokee Nation, excelled in math from an early age. Although teenage girls "weren't expected to enjoy or excel in math or science," Ross began attending college at the age of 16 and became a high school teacher after graduation. Embracing Cherokee values, she encouraged her students, especially young Pueblo and Navajo girls, to take advantage of available educational opportunities. In 1942 she took a job at Lockheed Aircraft Company as a mathematical research assistant. In 1950 she became their first female engineer. The company recognized her potential and assigned her to work on top-secret projects related to government space and weapons programs. Donovan, who is Métis, uses elegant cartoon-style illustrations, which are well-matched to the narrative. The artwork helps expand the information included in the text. Using pencil, ink, and Procreate, the layered spreads feature reproductions of blueprints and fragments of notes about Ross's projects. Sorrell, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, shares her personal perspective about Ross in an author's note. A time line, bibliography, section of "Four Cherokee Values," and source notes are included. VERDICT This title spotlights the story of an innovative Cherokee aerospace engineer, whose life sets an inspiring example for all children. Pair it with the picture book version of Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's Sch., Richmond, VA

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Millbrook Press (Tm)
Publication date
March 20, 2021
American Indian Youth Literature Awards
Honor Book 2022

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