One Step Further: My Story of Math, the Moon, and a Lifelong Mission

National Geographic. Jan. 2021. 48p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781426371936.
K-Gr 3–Katherine Johnson (1918–2020) had many roles: teacher, brilliant mathematician, role model, trailblazer for racial and gender equality, and devoted mother of three daughters. Written with two of her daughters, Joylette Hylick and Katherine Moore, this autobiographical picture book provides a fantastic account of Johnson’s life. Johnson grew up as a math-loving little girl in West Virginia and graduated from high school at the age of 14. She earned her college degree from West Virginia State University (formerly West Virginia State College) and worked as an educator before joining NASA in 1953. Johnson’s narrative is paired with speech bubbles, which contain Joylette and Kathy’s personal insights and anecdotes. Charming illustrations are wonderfully juxtaposed with historical images, family photographs, and personal mementos like Johnson’s report card. Young readers will come away with a clearer understanding of the gender discrimination faced by women in the workplace, racial segregation, and Jim Crow laws. The back matter describes additional details and the historical events that impacted Johnson’s career and family. There’s no greater tribute to her legacy than that her daughters followed in her footsteps. Joylette became a mathematician and worked for NASA. Kathy, as well as sister Connie, became teachers.
VERDICT A compelling personal account from a remarkable woman and her family.

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