Counting The Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician (Lesa Cline-Ransome)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Counting The Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by Raúl Colón, a detailed look at the life and work of the noted computer.

Born to humble beginnings, Katherine showed an immediate aptitude for numbers and an insatiable curiosity. Encouraged by her parents and teachers, Katherine started school early, then managed to skip several grades by her teen years; in college, she was so skilled at math that an entire advanced course was designed with her as the sole student. After falling in love, marrying, and having three daughters, she and her husband moved to Virginia to pursue work, and Katherine was hired as a human “computer” for NACA (the precursor to NASA). Impressing the engineers, scientists, and astronauts with her incredible mind and impeccable work – and fighting for her place at the table to be recognized for both – Katherine went on to be a pivotal force in NASA’s Mercury missions and beyond.

Inspiring. Since Hidden Figures, Katherine Johnson has become a far-more recognized name, and this detailed illustrated biography is a great way for middle-grade readers to get an introduction to her skills and contributions. Interestingly, the text mentions issues of race and gender mostly in passing, choosing not to dwell on the obstacles Johnson faced as a black woman at the forefront of STEM in the 50’s and 60’s, and instead focusing on her background and work. It’s a choice that works well, allowing Katherine, rather than racism and sexism, to be the focus of her own story. Colón’s art is beautiful, realism touched with bits of magic and science to capture Johnson’s inquisitiveness. This one is lengthy, and the language is for strong readers, but JJ loved the art and the compelling structure. A great inspiration for aspiring STEM minds, and we recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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