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Friday, November 20, 2015

Excellent Picture Book for Math Teachers!

Wallmark, Laurie; Chu, April (2015) Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine.  Creston Books.

Opening Lines:  Ada was born into a world of poetry, but numbers, not words, captured her imagination.

There are lots of picture books about math: thousands of counting books,books about adding and fractions, and even high-interest narrative book like the Sir Cumferance series.  But there are not many picture books -- in fact, none that I can think of, that describe math heroes -- or in this case, math heroines.

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Ada Byron Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron the poet, and how she grew up fascinated by numbers and what she could make them do.  When she was bedridden by measles, her interest in mathematics grew even more..  When she became a young woman, she meets Mary Fairfax Somerville, a well-known female scientist and mathematician.  Through Somerville, Ada met Charles Babbage, who had invented the first computer/calculator.  Though Babbage continued to develop the mechanics of the Difference Engine, it was Ada who figured out how to program it in a way that made it more efficient.

We live in a world where math heroes often fly under the radar, and where most elementary children have never imagined that a female mathematician could make a difference in t he world -- let alone in the world of the early 1800s.  Math teachers who care about their female students should thank Laurie Wallmark and April Chu for creating this book, then they should immediately order this book for their classroom.  Right away.

(And if you like the illustrations, you might also want to check out April Chu's illustrations in her previous book, Village by the Sea.)


  1. Thanks for reviewing our book. Girls (and boys!) need to know that there are strong, smart women in STEM. Laurie