Ada Lovelace and the Number-Crunching Machine

NorthSouth Bks. Sept. 2019. 32p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9780735843172.
PreS-Gr 2–Ada Byron Lovelace is considered to be an early pioneer in concepts that led to computer programming. As the child of unconventional parents, Lovelace had a broader education than many 19th-century girls. Due to the audience demographic, many biographical details are simplified or glossed over. Lovelace and her father are both described as wild, romantic, bad-tempered, and moody; that he was mostly absent from Lovelace’s life is not mentioned. No resources are listed, which, along with a generally lighthearted tone, make the book more historical fiction than an actual biography. The narrative is vague, even about the time period, saying “in those days” rather than giving a date. An author’s note provides helpful additional information. Cartoon illustrations include humorous fantasy elements, such as zebras pulling a carriage, Lovelace perched on top of Charles Babbage’s early computer, and Lovelace reaching down out of a portrait to connect with a modern girl. The characters’ features are more doll-like than human in appearance, with large eyes and circles of color on their cheeks.
VERDICT This book effectively introduces Lovelace to a young audience, but additional resources will be needed to explain the historical context of her life and how her ideas contributed to the modern work of programming and coding.

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