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[Nonfiction Wednesday] Unlocking Algorithmic Mysteries for the First Analytical Engine in Ada Lovelace’s Picturebook Biography

Ada Byron Lovelace And The Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark and Illustrated by April Chu.

Myra here.

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.

Last week, we featured the picturebook biography of the Queen of Computer Code herself, the Amazing Grace Hopper. But before there was Hopper, there was Ada Byron Lovelace, the Mother of Computer Programming.

Ada Byron Lovelace And The Thinking Machine

Written by Laurie Wallmark Illustrated by April Chu
Published by Creston Books (2015) Literary Awards: NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book California Reading Association Eureka! Winner Book Award
ISBN-10: 1939547202
ISBN-13: 9781939547200
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

There are several picturebook biographies (PBB) done on the life of Ada Byron Lovelace, two of them we have featured over the years as you can see below:

Ada Lovelace: Poet Of Science by Diane Stanley and Jessie Hartland (see Fats’ review here).

Ada’s Ideas by Fiona Robinson (see my review here).

This picturebook biography by Wallmark and Chu make a wonderful addition to the growing number of books on the life of a little-known mathematician who actually paved the way for the birth of computer programming.

Similar to the first two books, this one also makes mention of Lord Byron, the poet father, and the fact that he was pretty much absent in Ada’s life. Rather than be fascinated with the mysteries of verse, Ada had always been enamoured with numbers and figures.

Ada’s bout with the measles which left her nearly blind and paralyzed was also highlighted in this narrative. The fact that her getting sick was primarily caused by her outdoor experimentation on flight while it was raining hard simply showed Ada’s tenacity and resolve to pursue knowledge, no matter the cost.

Ada’s friendship with Charles Babbage through the introduction of her mentor, Mary Fairfax Somerville, also illustrated the sharpness of Ada’s inquisitive mind, and how it welcomed problems for which the solutions do not yet exist in the mathematical realm, at the time.

After checking and rechecking her algorithm through the night, Ada finally laid down her pen. She hadn’t found any errors. The world’s first computer program was complete.

The gears of Ada’s mind whirred with possibilities for future inventions, all controlled by computing machines.

The additional details found on the Author’s Note also provides richer context on Ada’s life circumstances and its historical backdrop, making Ada’s life even more fascinating. Definitely a much-needed addition to anyone’s bookshelf, be it at home or in the classroom.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

3 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Unlocking Algorithmic Mysteries for the First Analytical Engine in Ada Lovelace’s Picturebook Biography

  1. I loved this book too. Thanks for your thoughtful review.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It really is a fascinating story and this one is a favorite of them. Thanks, Myra.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great selections. I love STEM picture book biographies.

    Liked by 1 person

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