Tag Archives: Women in STEM

Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician

Written by: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Illustrated by: Raúl Colón

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

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_nola-2-2Lesa 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.

raul-colon-706247Raúl 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 DanceAngela’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.

What Stars Are Made Of [released 3/31]

Written by: Sarah Allen 

For ages: Middle Grades, 5th and up.

Language: English

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Own Voices, Turner Syndrome, Neurodiversity (NLD), STEM, Women in STEM, Friendship, Social-Emotional Growth & Development.

Summary: 

Hot damn, I’m glad this book exists.  This middle grade novel follows 12 year old Libby over the course of a school year.  Libby has difficulty making friends, and talks to famous women in science that she’s learned about inside her head.  When Libby’s sister Nonny moves back home because her husband Thomas is on a longterm job in another state and Nonny is pregnant, Libby is both excited and worried.  Libby has Turner syndrome, and because of this she has some complications like giving herself shots daily, and sterility.  She’s worried that the baby might need extra help too.

This book covers a wonderful amount of topics throughout the story, and I seriously could not put it down.  Libby navigates family dynamics, making friends with a new girl at school, and figuring out how to win a Smithsonian contest with a 25k grand prize (that could really help Thomas and Nonny). Libby has a good relationship with her teacher Ms. Trepky who encourages her to submit the essay and works with her on editing.

There is a particularly beautiful part of the book that really stuck with me after finishing it.  Libby and Ms. Trepky are in the classroom, discussing how the world is shaped by individuals, but the individual that changes the world is also shaped by an innumerable amount of people themselves.  Libby takes a moment of reflection and comprehends the magnitude of the fact that “the world was shaped by billions and billions of unknown hands…that meant [she] could sculpt and write on the DNA of the universe from [her] little corner of it, too, no matter [her] smallness or genetics or scars” (p137 of ARC).  This is a profound realization for a middle schooler, and a mindset that we have sought to emulate by creating ripples of change wherever we can.  For us, that means sharing stunning Own Voices texts such as this one.  This book comes out on March 31st and please do yourself a favor and devote a few hours to this splendid read, you will absolutely not regret it.

This book was generously sent to us by Macmillan, but all opinions are our own! Note: the quote we cited may differ slightly from the published edition, we will be checking for correctness once the edition is actually published.

About the Author:

Headshot-cred Sarah AllenSarah Allen got her MFA in creative writing from BYU and while Utah will always be her home, Sarah moved around a bit and currently lives in the Seattle area.

Pretty much every area of writing interests her, and regularly submits short stories, poetry, articles, and other fun things. Sarah is a Slytherin (with a Hufflepuff exterior), overenthusiastic about most things, and a shmoosher of dog faces. Her superpower is speaking fluent movie quotes.  Sarah is also a major lover of Pixar, leather jackets, and Colin Firth.

Work it, Girl: Mae Jemison [released March 3]

Written by: Caroline Moss

Illustrated by: Sinem Erkas

For ages: 8-12 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Women in STEM, Historical Figure, Biography, Astronauts, Trailblazer, Black Culture & Identity, Dancers.

Summary: 

If you think we’re ever going to stop posting books about Mae Jemison, you would be sorely mistaken.  This badass speaks 4 languages, and was the first Black woman in space.  How could we not continue to heap love upon her at every opportunity?!

This is another fantastic addition to the Work It, Girl! series, and this one is the perfect next step for the slightly older elementary reader that is fascinated by space and Mae herself.  This book is similar to the picture books that introduce Mae and her astronomical achievements, but goes into much greater detail about her childhood and the drive she had to achieve her goals. Mae not only became an astronaut, but a medical doctor and accomplished dancer as well.  Seriously Mae, leave some trails for us to blaze!

For real though, this book talks about how getting a splinter was the catalyst for Mae’s fascination for science and the strength her parents instilled in her to ignore naysayers and go after exactly what she wanted.  The beautiful paper cutouts illustrate the text in a brightly colored and creative way.  We are thrilled that this series is featuring Black women that achieved great things and continued on to help others, as well as inspire readers to do the same.  Like the Michell Obama volume, this one has life lessons to learn from Mae and self-reflection questions for the reader to answer.  Honor the people you love, stay motivated and passionate, but remember it’s ok to take breaks too!

This awesome book is out tomorrow, March 3rd! It was sent to us by our friends at Quarto, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

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Benjamin Pu

Caroline Moss began her writing career as a technology and culture reporter at Business Insider, where she rose the ranks to deputy editor over two and a half years at the company. Caroline covered viral content, YouTube and social media stars, and internet trends before leaving to write “HEY LADIES!” with Michelle Markowitz, a book based on their popular series at The Toast. A few years later she joined BuzzFeed News to help produce their morning show, AM to DM, and it was there that Caroline wrote the first two books in the “Work It, Girl!” series.

In between, she has written for The New York Times, New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan, The Hairpin, Racked, VICE, and more. Caroline’s books have appeared in The New York Times, Refinery29, Bustle, and more.

thumbweb-xoxoSinem Erkas is a graphic illustrator and art director with an appetite for experimentation and a good sense of fun.

Her practice ranges from digital artworks to 3D photo-illustrations and her favourite projects involve creating playful and bold imagery that make you look twice.

Based in London, she graduated from CSM in 2008 and has since acquired numerous design awards and clients that include Profile Books, Elle Decoration, Hachette Publishers, Google, SHOWstudio and Warp Records amongst many others.

Sinem’s first illustrated book The Girl Guide has been published in 16+ languages and she is currently working on a series of illustrated biographies Work It, Girl.

My Mama is a Mechanic

Written & Illustrated by: Doug Cenko

For ages: 3-6 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Family, POC-Centric Narratives, Gender Stereotypes, Women in STEM. 

Summary: 

This book is absolutely adorable!  Our narrator is a young boy, describing all of the things his mother is.  Through the eyes of a child, his mother is a chemist, a monster truck driver, and treasure hunter.  The reader sees in the illustrations all of the activities that the duo does together like baking, searching for things in the couch cushions, and making things out of cardboard.  We find out at the end of the book that the boy’s mother is actually a mechanic!

This is a simple storyline for little ones that both subverts gender stereotypes and showcases the love that the boy has for his mother.  The illustrations are really cute, and show the mother and her son just having fun around the house together.  We particularly enjoyed the “Momster Truck” that said “eat your vegetables” on the side!

This is also a sweet book in that so often we see protagonists of color in a historical narrative context, or in a story with a strong moral.  My Mama is a Mechanic celebrates family but at the same time is just a cute story with a lovely lesson that anyone can do any job!

This book was sent to us by Blue Manatee Press, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & Illustrator:

headshot-2Doug Cenko has been working as a creative professional for over 15 years. His work has been seen by millions of people worldwide on dozens of concert tours, films and television shows.

He grew up in Northwest Indiana raised by two wonderful parents and an Atari 2600. His first job was at a comic book shop where he spent the majority of his $3 an hour income on the very thing he was selling. The rest, of course, went towards fireworks.

After college, Doug interned at StarToons, one of the animation studios behind the Animaniacs, making even less money than at the comic shop. From there, he combined his love of illustration and fireworks and started working at Strictly FX, a live special effects company. While at Strictly FX, Doug has designed special effects for shows including Wrestlemania, the Academy Awards and Pitch Perfect 2.

Doug is currently living in the city of Chicago with his two harshest critics – his beautiful wife and daughter.

Atlas of Ocean Adventures

Written by: Emily Hawkins

Illustrated by: Lucy Letherland

For ages: 7 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Nature, Natural World, Scientific Thinking, Discovery. 

Summary: This book is part of a larger set of atlas’ by Quarto as part of their Wide Eyed Editions books, focusing on curiosity and learning.  This is the only book in the series that we’ve seen (we won this in a giveaway) but the other books look amazing too!  We love to feature nature and science books as part of our beliefs that everyone can be a scientist, despite there sometimes being a single example of what a scientist is.  The world is an amazing place that needs diverse explorers and scientists to help solve life’s mysteries and to protect our precious natural resources and wild animals.

This is a massive book jam packed full of oceanic knowledge and adventure inspiration!  The entire book is beautiful and organized, with a helpful contents page at the beginning and an index at the end.  The illustrations make us want to grab some flippers and hop on into the water, searching for otters and whale sharks to befriend!  The atlas also does a lovely job of explaining the wonders of the aquatic world, and where they are in the world.  Lots of information is on the pages, but it doesn’t overwhelm the illustrations which are the star of the show here.  This is a great coffee-table book, and a must-have for the burgeoning marine biologist on your life!

There is even a “Can You Find?” section in the back right before the index!  There are a bunch of animals to seek out through the entire book, making another activity for readers.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

711233d6Lucy Letherland is an illustrator based in London, UK. She graduated from Manchester School of Art in 2011 with a First Class BA (Hons) in Illustration with Animation. Lucy’s work is strongly led by humour and narrative, creating a playful graphic quality. She uses a mix of hand-drawn and digital techniques to produce lively illustrations filled with detail.
In 2014 Lucy’s first picture book for children, Atlas of Adventures, was published by Wide Eyed Editions. It went on to win the UK Educational Writer’s Award 2015, and was also shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, The English Association’s 4-11 Picture Book Awards, and the UKLA Book Award 2016.
Her second, Atlas of Animal Adventures, won the Children’s Travel Book of the Year in the Edward Stanford Awards 2016.
B1LWRxb3lVS._US230_Emily Hawkins is a children’s author who loves making complicated things easy to understand. She has written books about all sorts of things, from cars, trains and ships to dinosaurs, magic tricks and mathematics. She co-wrote the Atlas of Animal Adventures (illustrated by Lucy Letherland), which won the Children’s Travel Book of the Year Award in 2016. Emily has also written several titles in the internationally popular Ology series, which has sold over 16 million copies worldwide. She holds a first-class English degree from Nottingham University, and lives in Winchester, England, with her young family.

Celestina the Astronaut Ballerina

Written by: Donald Jacobson

Illustrated by: Graham Evans

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Bullying, POC-Centric Narratives, Space, Growing Up, Independent Thought, Self-Esteem, Social-Emotional Learning. 

Summary: This rhyming story follows a young girl named Celestina, who dreams of being an astronaut despite everyone telling her to be a ballerina instead.  Celestina is teased by her classmates and told to focus on something more realistic than being an astronaut by adults and teachers.  Sadly, Celestina thinks that they may be right and begins to focus on dancing.  One day, she gets a new teacher who tells the class that they are the ones in charge of their dreams-no one else can tell them what they want to accomplish.  Her dream renewed, Celestina begins to focus on the hard work it will take to achieve her ultimate goal of going to space.

This book is super cute, and we really enjoyed it!  Having a character interested in science and space that isn’t a boy, but instead a young girl of color, is refreshing.  We really love that Celestina is a character that is developed enough to have multiple interests that she can embrace.  She does love dance, and is talented at it, but space is where her heart truly lies.  This book is also very believable in that when she is bullied, Celestina begins to doubt herself.  But she also never truly gives up on her dream, and with the encouragement of her teacher realizes that she can accomplish exactly what she wants to.

We were sent this book by the author for review, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

author-central-image-2018Here is a bit more info about author Donald Jacobson from his “about me” section of his website:

“I’m a husband, a father, a registered nurse, and a sometimes-writer living and working in Memphis, Tennessee.  My main sources of inspiration when writing — especially when writing kid’s books — are my two amazing daughters (Hazel and Holly) and my beautiful, smart, supportive, and loving wife (Stephanie). Without them, I wouldn’t have had the courage to strike out and put my ideas on paper. I’d also like to give an honorary mention to our mopey rescue dog, Yoda, who stands beside me as the only other source of male DNA in our crazy, but wonderful, little family.

My secondary source of inspiration — er, maybe not “inspiration”, but information — is my clinical background in nursing. I’ve been a nurse for over 10 years, with experience in emergency nursing, EMS, case management, nursing informatics, and a variety of other settings. I also have two Master’s degrees, which definitely made me get over my fear of rejection when writing. If you’re a writer, and you have trouble just putting something out there for judgment, I highly recommend going through a Master’s program. You’ll eventually stop worrying about that rejection, get over your failure (after failure, after failure, after failure) and just learn to create content.”

 

We had some difficulty finding out information about illustrator Graham Evans, there are several artists with the same name and we don’t think he has a personal website featuring his illustrations.  If you know, let us know!

Bird Count

Written by: Susan Edwards Richmond

Illustrated by: Stephanie Fizer Coleman

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Nature, STEM, Birds, Girls Outdoors, POC-Centric Narratives, Environmental Activism, Culture & Traditions, Friendship, Community Involvement.

Summary: We love this book for so many reasons!  The plot follows a real-life bird counting event that takes place all over the USA on Christmas Day.  Citizen Scientists count birds in their local area and report back what they’re found to team leads.  This helps get an accurate representation of bird populations in different areas.  The story follows Ava and her mother as they travel around their community with a friend named Big Al.

It’s really great to see the representation of girls outdoors, specifically a family of color!  Especially in the States, where we are inundated with Christmas (consumerism, religion, decor) it’s refreshing to have a book that briefly mentions the day that the Bird Count takes place, but there is no emphasis on the holiday itself.  There are plenty of people who don’t celebrate it, and having this option to be outdoors and help scientists count birds is a really fun alternative.  On each page as well, Ava keeps track of the birds she counts.  This helps introduce math and keeping a tally of objects counted to readers.  Throughout the book there are tips and descriptions of the birds, helping the reader become more familiar as well.  In the back there is a list of the birds featured in the book and an author’s note with more information about the Audubon Society’s annual bird count so you can be a Citizen Scientist too! Overall, we really enjoyed the book and are excited to be able to participate in our own Bird Count on day.

This book was sent to us by Peachtree as part of the Best Books of 2019 project.  All opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

WP_000308Susan Edwards Richmond is the author of the children’s picture book, Bird Count (Peachtree) about a child who becomes a Citizen Scientist for a day in her town’s Christmas Bird Count.  A passionate birder and naturalist, Susan teaches preschool on a farm and wildlife sanctuary in eastern Massachusetts.  She earned her M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, Davis, and is an award-winning poet with five collections of nature-based poetry for adults, including Before We Were Birds (Adastra Press) and Birding in Winter (Finishing Line Press). She is happiest exploring natural habitats with her husband and two daughters, and learns the native birds wherever she travels. Check out her website for a great Q&A!

bunny+7Stephanie Fizer Coleman is the illustrator for Bird Count.  Here is a blurb from her website to learn a little bit more about her!

“I’m an illustrator, designer and generally curious girl living in lovely but misunderstood West Virgina. I was lucky to grow up in a rural area, with a babbling brook and lush forest just a few feet from my back door; I find that the love of nature I developed as a child still influences my work today.

After seriously studying ballet and getting my BA in History, I found my true passion in illustrating and have been working as a freelance illustrator since 2008.

I work in Photoshop and Procreate and have developed a style of working that blends both digital and traditional elements.  I enjoy playing around with patterns, textures and brilliant colors in my work.  Animals are my favorite subjects to illustrate and I’m thrilled to be illustrating the kinds of books I would have loved when I was a little library-goer.

My client list includes Caterpillar Books, Hallmark, American Greetings, Clarion Books, HarperCollins, Charlesbridge, Peachtree, Highlights, Mudpuppy, Sellers Publishing, Millbrook Press, Design House Greetings, and Walker Books.

When I’m not tucked away in my studio working on a book, you’ll find me tending my vegetable garden, experimenting with new vegan recipes in the kitchen, or curled up with a book and a hot cup of tea.”