Who Says Women Can't Be Computer Programmers?: The Story of Ada Lovelace

illus. by Marjorie Priceman. 40p. bibliog. notes. Holt. Feb. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781627792998. POP
Gr 3–5—Joining the growing collection of biographies highlighting women in STEM careers, this charming, informative picture book provides young readers with a brief, lively introduction to Ada Byron Lovelace, whose interests and complex ideas were ahead of her 19th century reality. Lovelace was the child of gifted but scandalous English poet, Lord Byron, and his high society, mathematician wife. When Lord Byron abandoned the family, Lovelace's determined, educated mother made sure the child was well-tutored in science, math and social norms rather than imagination and fancy. But, Lovelace's creativity and passion were irrepressible. She befriended polymath, Charles Babbage, whose inventions intrigued her. Babbage envisioned an Analytical Engine, modeled on the Jacquard Loom for textiles, using punch cards for processing numbers instead of threads. Lovelace devised additional Analytic Engine algorithms that could also create pictures and music, "just as computers do today!" An addendum provides more historical details on Lovelace's marriage, her fragile health, her connection with leading scientists of the time, her long friendship with Babbage, and her name changes. On every page, the gouache and India ink artwork offers a vivid, energetic depiction of people, events, and swirling ideas. The art meshes smoothly with the conversational storytelling, capturing the exuberance, elegance, and giftedness of this exceptional woman.
VERDICT This appealing picture book will spark immense pride and prompt readers to do their own investigations into the world of mathematics and computers.

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