Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer

Millbrook. Mar. 2021. 32p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781541579149.
Gr 2-5–Mary Golda Ross (1908–2008), a member of the Cherokee Nation, excelled in math from an early age. Although teenage girls “weren’t expected to enjoy or excel in math or science,” Ross began attending college at the age of 16 and became a high school teacher after graduation. Embracing Cherokee values, she encouraged her students, especially young Pueblo and Navajo girls, to take advantage of available educational opportunities. In 1942 she took a job at Lockheed Aircraft Company as a mathematical research assistant. In 1950 she became their first female engineer. The company recognized her potential and assigned her to work on top-secret projects related to government space and weapons programs. Donovan, who is Métis, uses elegant cartoon-style illustrations, which are well-matched to the narrative. The artwork helps expand the information included in the text. Using pencil, ink, and Procreate, the layered spreads feature reproductions of blueprints and fragments of notes about Ross’s projects. Sorell, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, shares her personal perspective about Ross in an author’s note. A time line, bibliography, section of “Four Cherokee Values,” and source notes are included.
VERDICT This title spotlights the story of an innovative Cherokee aerospace engineer, whose life sets an inspiring example for all children. Pair it with the picture book version of Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures.

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