Friday, February 8, 2019
Fact Friday: Counting on Katherine: how Katherine Johnson saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker
Counting on Katherine: how Katherine Johnson saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk. unpgd. Christy Ottaviano Books/ Henry Holt and Company, June, 2018. 9781250137524. (Review of purchased finished copy.)
Fact Friday features Counting on Katherine: how Katherine Johnson saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker. Johnson of Hidden Figures fame gets her own picture book biography where readers learn that she loved to count at an early age. In fact, she was such a mathematical genius that she skipped three grades, graduating high school at age 14. Readers learn of the obstacles Katherine and her family had to overcome thanks to segregation in order for Katherine to receive the education she needed and that once she finished college, she could not find work as a research mathematician because the only jobs open to women were teaching and nursing.
Thanks to the formation of the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, Katherine was hired as a "computer," eventually earning such a reputation that astronaut John Glenn famously refused to fly until she had checked the numbers.
Johnson, who celebrated her 100th birthday last August, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2015.
The computer-generated illustrations are vibrant, expressive and brilliantly incorporate math in them. Also effective were two that bookend the story, of young Katherine and adult Katherine contemplating the moon. Even the end-pages sport mathematic calculations.
Backmatter includes a page and a half with more about Katherine and nine sources. This is a worthy addition to any library.