#SurvivalStories2021 Binge-Read Book Series Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Postscript to the Series of Katherine Johnson Biographies

"... with hard work, perseverance, and a love of math, anything was possible."

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

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Our reading theme for July-September is Binge-Read: Book Series Marathon. We are expanding the range of this theme to include books that fit the following deliberately-nebulous criteria:

  1. Books that are part of an ongoing series
  2. Themed stories: books that are technically not part of a series, but fit a specific theme – e.g. intergenerational stories, nature-themed stories
  3. Short story collections
  4. Narratives of a similar genre
  5. Stories written by same author

I am happy to cap off the series of Katherine Johnson picturebook biographies with this story of four Black women which started it all: Hidden Figures. See here for Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.


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Hidden Figures: The True Story Of Four Black Women And The Space Race (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Margot Lee Shetterly Illustrated by Laura Freeman
Published by Harper Collins (2018)
ISBN: 9780062742469 (ISBN10: 0062742469). Literary Award: Coretta Scott King Book Award Nominee, Illustrator (2019) Borrowed via Maktaba Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

This picturebook is fairly ambitious in the sense that it attempts to put together snapshots of stories around four Black women who were hired at various points in time by NASA, known at the time as NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics).

Screenshot 2021-06-29 at 12.17.50 PM

The story started with how Dorothy Vaughan joined NACA, followed by Mary Jackson, then Katherine Johnson, and finally Christine Darden. An evident thread throughout the narrative is the inequality and discrimination that was keenly felt during this period in history – and how the four women were able to overcome these oppressive conditions nonetheless.

Screenshot 2021-06-29 at 12.18.34 PM

I personally feel that the storytelling would have worked better for me, if each women were featured more prominently with more explicit transition or even BOLD introductory pages so that younger readers would not feel confused or interchange one story with another.

Screenshot 2021-06-29 at 12.21.05 PM

Regardless, the story remains a powerful testament to the brilliance and fortitude of these four astounding women scientists and mathematicians whose stories need to be told again and again for more young people to read and know about.


#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 77 out of target 100

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] A Postscript to the Series of Katherine Johnson Biographies

  1. Completely Full Bookshelf

    This sounds like another excellent picture book biography of Johnson and her peers, and it’s great that this one is specifically based on the Hidden Figures book by Margot Lee Shetterly! The illustrations look lovely as well. Thanks so much for the great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: [Nonfiction Wednesday] The Story of the First African American Woman In Space – Gathering Books

  3. Pingback: [Nonfiction Wednesday] From A Housemaid In Boston To Curator Of Astronomical Photographs – Gathering Books

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