Hold on to your hats, readers. This post features WOMEN IN STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics), a series of picture book biographies that will blow you away. I've linked each of my brief comments below to more thorough reviews on my Goodreads account about individual titles. Author Laurie Wallmark has introduced readers to each of her "subjects" as fully formed individual girls/women whose lives and accomplishments pop off the page. Each book also provides back matter that is head and shoulders above routine documentation to appeal and inform in its own right. ADA LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE (Laurie Wallmark, April Chu. Creston Books, 2015
There is so much to enjoy in this biography that spans, literally, cradle to grave and centuries beyond. Modern young readers will be inspired by her brilliant insights and accomplishments despite the limits of technology during her lifetime. Even though hers was a privileged and elegant life, Ada overcame struggles that will resonate with many (an absent father, several years of disability due to measles).
HEDY LAMARR'S DOUBLE LIFE: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor (Laurie Wallmark, Katy Wu. Sterling CHildren's Books 2019)
Characteristically deep research marks Hedy's life story, developed in appealing narrative with brief revelations about her childhood curiosity in Vienna, patented inventions, and on to her fame as a Hollywood star. She and friend George Antheil invested countless hours of secret effort in developing specialized equipment that allowed naval signals to evade detection during World War II. Their contributions to saving lives and winning the war remained top secret for many years and are still used today.Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Laurie Wallmark, Katy Wu, Sterling Children's Books. 2017)
I was eager to read more about Hopper, and this deeply researched account is filled with "grace" and humor. I vividly recall watching an evening news tribute to Grace Hopper on the occasion of her SECOND retirement from the US Navy at the age of eighty. That news profile recounted her transformational role in computer coding, in war service, and in top secret programming to save lives and defend our nation. During that short news segment this tiny, wiry woman looked as if she could still take on anything that a war or computer or even a "bug" could send her way.
After reading this biography I feel as if I had an opportunity to meet Grace, and I'm eager to introduce her to kids everywhere, especially to girls..
In case you missed it, take a look at my earlier review of Laurie's most recent release in this series, NUMBERS IN MOTION: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics.
I celebrate women in math, science, engineering, and technology, including Laurie Wallmark. As a writer and reader, I appreciate the challenges she must have encountered and then surpassed in creating each of these books. Each is a portal to the past while bringing forward these accomplished and inspiring women to gain present day admiration.
I honor all women who recognize their capacity as agents of growth, knowledge, and change in a world, in the past and present. From Ada to Sophie to Hedy to Grace, women have demonstrated their ability to learn and lead and leverage their too-limited status to arrive at the top of their fields. Although limitations for girls and women have "eased" over time, the playing field is by no means level. It's ironic, and unjust, that digital media has too often become a tool for actively generating bias and resistance to girls and women in STEM fields.
To mark this celebration, I'm giving away a signed copy of NUMBERS IN MOTION to encourage everyone to share these books with ALL kids, helping both genders of the next generation to seek and welcome others into careers in STEM. Deadline is midnight Sunday, January 24, Central time.
One chance to win will be added for each of the following, as many as you choose:
- Comment below on one (or more) of the titles reviewed here.
- Comment below about how you shared this post on social media (Twitter, FB, Instagram)
- Comment on your own attitude about math, good or bad. I promise not to scold!
- Ask Laurie a question. I hope to interview her about her upcoming March release, and may be able to include your question!)
- Clicked through to explore Laurie's website (click on WOMEN IN STEM in the top line) and comment on something you learned there.