Katherine Johnson

B.E.S. (Masterminds). Sept. 2020. 32p. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781438089140.
Gr 2-4–Katherine Johnson (1918–2020) demonstrated a special talent for math from a young age. Thanks to sacrifices made by her parents, she was able to skip ahead in school and graduate at the age of 14. After graduating from college at 18 with degrees in French and math, Johnson became a teacher, one of the few occupations open to women during that time period. According to the text, “Teaching was a traditional job for women at the time. It wasn’t common for women to use their degrees to work in research.” In 1939, she married her first husband, James Goble, and eventually had three daughters. In 1953, Johnson became one of NASA’s female “computers,” helping to run the calculations that made it possible to send American astronauts into space. Her work was often overlooked because she was a Black woman. However, she was so good at what she did, that eventually her supervisors and others couldn’t ignore her expertise. Johnson became a vital part of the work of space travel. Her efforts became so well known that John Glenn requested she check the numbers before his space flight. This well-designed biography provides a brief overview of Johnson’s life. A time line, glossary, and references for further information are included. The photographs and attractive design add to the book’s appeal.
VERDICT A great title for reports or a quick introduction to the subject. Further information will have to be sought elsewhere.

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