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|Counting the stars|
Author: Cline-Ransome, Lesa
The story of Katherine Johnson, an African American mathematician whose work was critical to the first US space flight.
Kirkus Reviews (08/01/19)
School Library Journal (10/01/19)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 10/01/2019 Katherine Johnson, one of the African American mathematicians featured in the movie Hidden Figures, gets a solid introduction in this picture book for older readers. Born in West Virginia to parents who highly prized education, Johnson was a math whiz who started high school at age 10. Her extraordinary skills and mentoring helped her to eventually get a job at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory. When the space-flight unit asked for a computer, as the women were called, she became an integral part of the team calculating flight paths. John Glenn wouldn't go up for his groundbreaking flight until she ran the numbers—a check on mechanical computers. The straightforward text doesn't dig too deep: How did Johnson feel about skipping so many grades? What were her personal feelings about Glenn's request? There are some unanswered factual questions, too: were the human computers all Black women or were they simply segregated? Colón's attractive illustrations, often with hints of colored prisms, reflect the book's tone with the emphasis on accomplishment. An author's note adds heft to this attractive introduction to Johnson's life. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 10/01/2019 Gr 1–4—Emphasizing Katherine Johnson's unquenchable curiosity, as well as her persistence in the face of discrimination against women and African Americans, veteran biographer Cline-Ransome describes Johnson's childhood, accelerated education, and path to NASA, culminating in her successful calculations for America's first orbital spaceflight. The book's final spread hints at Johnson's future involvement with Apollo 11, and an author's note provides further facts about her life. Illustrator Colón's signature lithographs enhance the book's tone: layers of watercolors and colored pencils draw readers into the lush, textured scenes that range from expansive (capturing the immensity of starry skies) to nostalgic (capturing atmospheric period details). Most effective is a motif of swirling colors in Johnson's clothing, a visual reminder of how her mind swirled with numbers and questions. VERDICT Although the scientific content of the text is best suited to older elementary school students, the tone is straightforward and inviting. A solid choice for most libraries, especially those seeking to strengthen their STEM collections.—Rebecca Honeycutt, NoveList, Durham, NC - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.