Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science
The First Computer Programmer
by Diane Stanley
illustrated by Jessie Hartland
A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster 2016
Where will booksellers keep all the amazing nonfiction books that are popping up? I recently read an article in Publishers Weekly which stated that “even before 2009 and the beginning of Common Core, some booksellers were seeing narrative non-fiction and information picture books take off.” It’s no wonder that with beautifully illustrated and well-written nonfiction books like Ada Lovelace Poet of Science that publishers and readers can’t get enough!
Two hundred years ago, a daughter was born to the famous poet, Lord Byron, and his mathematical wife, Annabella.
Like her father, Ada had a vivid imagination and a creative gift for connecting ideas in original ways. Like her mother, she had a passion for science, math, and machines. It was a very good combination. Ada hoped that one day she could do something important with her creative and nimble mind.
A hundred years before the dawn of the digital age, Ada Lovelace envisioned the computer-driven world we know today. And in demonstrating how the machine would be coded, she wrote the first computer program. She would go down in history as Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.
What I love about this book
From the perspective of an author, it is a challenge to tell the life story of any significant figure in history or historical event with minimal text that will not only inform but entertain the reader. From the perspective of a reader, Diane Stanley (Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare) and illustrator Jessie Hartland (Lexie the Word Wrangler) have taken this task to heart and created a story to be devoured.
Ada Lovelace’s story is told in the third person and with minimal text (just 1354 words to be exact) beginning from when she was a little girl “Long, long ago, on a cold winter day, a lonely little girl walked from room to room in a big, old, dark country house. Her name was Ada Byron and she was looking for something to do,” to a still determined, grown women with children of her own, “but she hadn’t lost sight of her dream, just postponed it. Now at last her moment had come.”
I was pleased to see that Stanley managed to insert a bit of humor within the pages when tells the reader that Ada’s mother was worried about her active imagination, “She hoped the study of math and science would suppress her daughter’s imagination. So Ada was given a world-class scientific education.” She goes on to explain that “her imagination was not harmed in the least.”
There is oodles of back matter to peruse including an Author’s Note, Important Dates, and a Glossary.
Artwork by Jessie Hartland, rendered in colorful gouache breathes a refreshing bit of whimsy and detail throughout this 40-page picture book.
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