NONFICTION

Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of

Kids Can. Oct. 2020. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781525300592.
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Gr 2-4–In the late 19th century, young women were expected to conform to gender norms. They were advised to be attractive and obedient and to cook, sew, get married, and have children. Born in Erlangen, Germany, Emmy Noether (1882–1935) preferred puzzles and formulas. Although women were not permitted to attend university at this time, Noether’s father arranged for his daughter to audit classes. Her fellow male classmates resented Noether for her abilities, but she persevered. In 1907, she was awarded a PhD with the highest honors. Noether, a contemporary of Albert Einstein, used her skills to repair the previously inexplicable hole in his theory of relativity. She later defined the connection between the laws of symmetry and conservation, now known as Noether’s theorem. Though she was able to overcome society’s sexist limitations, as a Jewish person living in 1933 Germany, she was no match for the Nazis. Friends encouraged her to move to the United States, where she taught at Bryn Mawr College until her death at 53. The humorous, engaging text uses everyday objects such as bowling balls and socks to explain abstract theories. Lighthearted, hand-drawn, and digitally colored illustrations provide a welcome balance to the occasionally weighty subject matter; comical speech bubbles add to this effect. A lengthy author’s note and bibliography will satisfy curious readers. Pair with Becker’s Counting on Katherine or Cheryl Bardoe’s Nothing Stopped Sophie.
VERDICT A worthy addition to the growing collection of STEM-related picture book biographies of pioneering women.

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