We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
Since we are also celebrating the lives of those who lived for puzzles and cracking codes, here is a perfect picturebook biography of the Queen of Computer Code herself, the Amazing Grace Hopper.
Written by Laurie Wallmark Illustrated by Katy Wu
Published by Sterling Children’s Books (2017)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
I don’t think I will ever grow tired of saying that I feel fortunate that we live at a time when picturebooks like this one exists.
Grace is unlike most girls her age, born in the early 1900s (1906 to be precise, in Grace Murray’s case). While most everyone seemed busy with their appearance and learning tasks deemed appropriate for young ladies at the time, Grace would rather take apart a clock and figure out how the parts go together, unraveling the mysteries and secrets of a complex gadget, the more puzzling the better for her.
Implicit in the narrative is the support and encouragement given to Grace by both her parents, who simply took it as a matter of course that Grace would be fascinated with all these things, that was simply who she was. Grace went on to study at Vassar College, an all-women’s school, foregoing subjects such as “Husbands and Wives” and “Motherhood” for math and physics.
I also found it masterful how Wallmark and Wu moved from one timeline to the next, and interspersed their interpretation of Grace’s life with actual verbatim quotes uttered by Hopper throughout the course of her life, courtesy of their very extensive research (see image below):
I especially enjoyed knowing more about why computer “bugs” are named as such, and I marveled at Grace’s unremitting curiosity, her no-nonsense attitude, and her single-minded focus in figuring out the easiest, quickest, most systematic method of figuring out solutions to any given problem. Her formulating codes as shorthand was borne out of her intention to not repeat herself, if she can help it. She was known for saying:
I was lazy as all get out. I never wanted to do anything over again.
This is a beautifully told and illustrated story of a remarkable woman who changed the face of computer programming, simply because she found joy in it, she wanted to and could – and have done it – with intelligence and amazing grace.
#LitWorld2018GB Update: United States Of America