BOOKS
A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon
illus. by Veronica Miller Jamison. 40p. bibliog. chron. photos. Little, Brown. Mar. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316435178.
COPY ISBN
K-Gr 3—Even as a child, Katherine Johnson loved numbers. She skipped through school, took a job as part of a team of number crunchers called "calculators," and helped figure out the trajectory of early space flights of the 1960s, even after machine computing became a part of the process. This retelling of Johnson's achievements focuses on her path as a black female mathematician. The book devotes a spread to the civil rights struggle, illustrating how people were divided about school integration; it also shows that many disagreed about whether women should work at jobs traditionally held by men. Jamison stresses how Johnson's talent for math broke both barriers. Covering much of the same ground as Helaine Becker's Counting on Katherine, the text is relatively straightforward and accessible even to listeners not yet ready for the inclusion of incorrect math problems, such as "25 ÷ 5 = 4," used as examples of how wrong some people's assumptions were. First-time illustrator Jamison relies on ink, watercolor, marker, and colored pencil to create spreads that emphasize math concepts. Often there's a faint background of the geometric images and equations shown on the end papers. Back matter includes author and artist notes about their personal connection to the subject, quotes from Johnson herself, and sources and credits.
VERDICT Another appealing picture book biography of a successful woman; a strong choice for most collections.

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