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

S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Oct. 2019. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534404755.
Gr 1-4–Emphasizing Katherine Johnson’s unquenchable curiosity, as well as her persistence in the face of discrimination against women and African Americans, veteran biographer Cline-Ransome describes Johnson’s childhood, accelerated education, and path to NASA, culminating in her successful calculations for America’s first orbital spaceflight. The book’s final spread hints at Johnson’s future involvement with Apollo 11, and an author’s note provides further facts about her life. Illustrator Colón’s signature lithographs enhance the book’s tone: layers of watercolors and colored pencils draw readers into the lush, textured scenes that range from expansive (capturing the immensity of starry skies) to nostalgic (capturing atmospheric period details). Most effective is a motif of swirling colors in Johnson’s clothing, a visual reminder of how her mind swirled with numbers and questions.
VERDICT Although the scientific content of the text is best suited to older elementary school students, the tone is straightforward and inviting. A solid choice for most libraries, especially those seeking to strengthen their STEM collections.

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