FICTION

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

illus. by April Chu. 40p. bibliog. chron. Creston. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781939547200.
COPY ISBN
RedReviewStarGr 1–4—This well-written and handsomely illustrated picture book biography details how Ada Lovelace Byron was able to write the first computer program more than 100 years before the first computer was built. Ever since she was a young girl, Lovelace was fascinated by numbers. As she was growing up, she filled her journals with ideas for inventions and equations. Her mother provided tutors to further develop Lovelace's passion for mathematics. When one of these tutors invited Lovelace and her mother to a gathering of scientists, she met the famous mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage. He was so impressed by Lovelace's knowledge that he invited her to his laboratory, where she learned about his idea for an Analytical Engine, a mechanical computer that would solve difficult problems by working them through step-by-step. She realized that this "computer" would only work if it were provided with detailed instructions, and after much work, she succeeded in writing what is now referred to as the first computer program and in creating the profession of computer programming. The descriptive text and dazzling spreads work seamlessly to provide a sense of Lovelace's growing passion for mathematics and invention. The illustrations reflect the 19th-century setting and contain numerous supporting details. For example, gears that will eventually become part of the design of the Analytic Engine are featured throughout: in the corners of the title page, on the pages of Ada's journals, and on Babbage's chalkboard.
VERDICT An excellent addition to STEM collections.

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