A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Difference Engine, early calculator. Analytical Engine, early precursor to computers -- what it could do, and how Ada envisioned it to do more. Punch cards used by the Jacquard loom to program patterns was inspiration for punch cards for computers. Name of poet Lord Byron. Other accomplished luminaries Mary Somerville, Charles Dickens, Charles Babbage. Social expectations for women in England in 1800s.
Math is interesting, fun, and creative. Girls can excel at math and computer science. Girls can have visionary scientific ideas and work to make them real. Girls can overcome limiting expectations and pursue their passions. Despite challenges and illness, you can persist. Education is important and can open doors. Others who are accomplished in a field can help you.
Positive Role Models
Ada loved numbers, had visionary scientific ideas. She pursued her passion, anticipating breakthroughs that wouldn't happen for a century. She worked despite setback of serious illness, and worked collaboratively, expanding on others' ideas. Fluent in French, she translated complicated papers. Though her mother tried to tamp down Ada's creative endeavors and punished her in ways now considered harsh, she made sure Ada got the best math education possible and was introduced to influential figures in her field.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Who Says Women Can't Be Computer Programmers?: The Story of Ada Lovelace is by Tanya Lee Stone and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Marjorie Priceman, the same talented team who collaborated on Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell. The subject of this bio, Ada Lovelace, is enjoying some deserved popularity, and a few good picture book bios of her have already been published. What this one has to recommend it is its infectious spirit of fun. Lovelace was born in England in the early 1800s, and her father was famed poet Lord Byron. Though women of her class were expected only to marry well, she was educated in math, introduced to influential figures, and distinguished herself as a visionary mathematician who pioneered computer programming. The book paints young Ada as a spirited and relatable girl, full of fun, and math as a creative adventure.
Is It Any Good?
This delightful and engaging account of a 19th-century female math prodigy keeps readers amused and entertained while it inspires and expands girls' horizons. In Who Says Women Can't Be Computer Programmers?: The Story of Ada Lovelace, author Tanya Lee Stone uses snappy, inventive prose to convey the information. For instance, to tell us Ada was punished, Stone introduces Ada's cat, Madame Puff, who "never, ever made her stand in a dark closet until she promised to behave," as Ada’s mother did. And when her father fled the country, she writes, "owing enormous sums of money, Lord Byron leaped into a gilded coach he hadn't paid for." An informational section at the end, entitled "More to the Story," matches the story's breezy and conversational tone.
Marjorie Priceman's art is equally engaging. She fills the pages with fanciful detail as well as swirling numbers and equations. Her colorful ink-and-gouache paintings are full of fun detail that humanizes Ada. Young Ada's pictured with flyaway, corkscrew curls. While working at her desk, she rests her feet on her sleeping cat. And while maids outfit her in a ball gown, she stands on books and holds one to read.
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