Written by: Lesa Cline-Ransome
Illustrated by: Raúl Colón
For ages: 4-8 years
Topics Covered: STEM, Women in Science, Historical Figure, Space, Segregation, Racism, POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, Historic Events.
Summary: Katherine was an incredibly intellectually gifted child, starting 2nd grade at age 6, and 5th grade the year after. Her parents strongly valued education and moved the family closer to the West Virginia Institute, where Katherine started high school at the age of ten and college at the age of 15 on a full scholarship. Years later, after graduation and teaching, she got a job in the segregated computing office at Langley Aeronautics.
Katherine was disciplined, hardworking, and brilliant. She soon blazed her own trail as the only permanently working woman and woman of color in the office where she was originally placed on just temporary assignment. She was instrumental in the Space Race and has inspired too many people to count, especially young women of color to embrace their intelligence and interest in STEM.
This is a fantastic book that describes just how pivotal Katherine Johnson was to American history during the Space Race of the early 1960’s. Having these books that intellectualize women, especially women of color during segregation is crucial for students to have a comprehensive history of the United States. Katherine Johnson was largely ignored until recently, and there is additional information about Katherine in the back of the book. This is a great book for older children, especially after reading some of the other Hidden Figures books or watching the movie!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Lesa Cline-Ransome grew up in Malden, MA, a suburb just outside of Boston, the daughter of two nurses and the youngest of three. She considers consider herself very lucky to have grown up with a mother who loved to read. Each week Lesa’s Mom would take Lesa with her to the local library so that she could stock up on books. As Lesa grew older she would venture off into the children’s section and gather up her own collection to check out. Through her mother Lesa realized that reading could become a wonderful escape and writing even more so. When her mother gave Lesa a diary as a gift, she first filled the pages with the “very important” details of her life—adventures with her friends, secret crushes and the many ways in which her family drove her crazy. Then Lesa began creating my own stories! Lesa became interested in children’s books the year she married. Her husband, James was working on illustrating his first book which allowed both of them to look at picture books in a new way. When they’d browse books in bookstores, he studied the illustrations, she read the stories. Lesa eventually completed a graduate degree in elementary education and through coursework became truly immersed in children’s literature.
Raúl Colón is the award-winning illustrator of many picture books, including Draw! an ALA Notable Book and recipient of the International Latino Book Award; Imagine! an ALA Notable Book, a New York Public Library Best Book for Kids, and a Bookpage Best Book; Susanna Reich’s José! Born to Dance; Angela’s Christmas by Frank McCourt; and Jill Biden’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops. Mr. Colón lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New City, New York, with his family.