Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson
Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson
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Annotation: Examines the life of the groundbreaking mathematician, including her childhood, when she showed incredible aptitude for math; her challenges with both racism and sexism; and her work with NASA.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #184608
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Atheneum
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 248 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-534-44083-6
ISBN 13: 978-1-534-44083-8
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2019003873
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Johnson, the groundbreaking NASA mathematician who was featured in the book and movie Hidden Figures, tells her own story in this middle-grade autobiography. The book, featuring many photos, spans from her childhood through the 1969 moon landing, with follow-up on her family members from that point forward. Johnson contextualizes her journey with information about Jim Crow laws, the education and training of African American teachers, and segregated schooling. Her loose narrative style feels conversational, which will draw in readers, and an interesting afterword compares the movie Hidden Figures to her actual experience. While filled with fascinating tidbits about space research and featuring a time line of space travel, much of the book focuses on Johnson's family life ere could have been even more emphasis on her life inside NASA terpersonal dynamics, intricacies of research, and challenges faced readers will also seek that detail. Johnson has had a tremendous life, and with her recent pop-culture representation, as well as the overall popularity of STEM, kids will be excited to learn more about her journey.
Kirkus Reviews
Much has been written about the black women mathematicians who worked behind the scenes at NASA; now
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Much has been written about the black women mathematicians who worked behind the scenes at NASA; now young readers can hear Katherine Johnson's story in her own words.Johnson begins her autobiography with her decision, at the age of 4, to start attending school with her brother so she could help him with his math. Impressed, the teacher opened a kindergarten class, but soon Katherine was skipping entire grades. Her family relocated so that she and her siblings could attend high school and college (beyond seventh grade, there was no school for "colored" youth in their hometown). Johnson graduated college at 18 with degrees in French and mathematics before going on to teach and pursue her now-famous career at NASA, yet she comes across as humble and warm, passing on to her children the refrain her father taught her as inoculation against racism: "You are no better than anyone else, but nobody else is better than you." Johnson describes the culture and way of life in each of the places where she lived and worked, with an honest portrayal of the common racial injustices and indignities alongside the shared humanity that also existed. She artfully weaves in the heart of how African American communities have survived and advanced—through "self-help and sacrificing" for the next generation. Her writing style is comfortable and conversational, making the book feel like a visit over tea that you wish would never end.From a long-lived American legend, this rich volume is a national treasure. (Memoir. 9-adult)
Word Count: 44,090
Reading Level: 7.1
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 7.1 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 504200 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 1040L

A Kirkus Reviews Best Middle Grade Book of 2019

“This rich volume is a national treasure.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Captivating, informative, and inspiring…Easy to follow and hard to put down.” —School Library Journal (starred review)

The inspiring autobiography of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who helped launch Apollo 11.

As a young girl, Katherine Johnson showed an exceptional aptitude for math. In school she quickly skipped ahead several grades and was soon studying complex equations with the support of a professor who saw great promise in her. But ability and opportunity did not always go hand in hand. As an African American and a girl growing up in an era of brutal racism and sexism, Katherine faced daily challenges. Still, she lived her life with her father’s words in mind: “You are no better than anyone else, and nobody else is better than you.”

In the early 1950s, Katherine was thrilled to join the organization that would become NASA. She worked on many of NASA’s biggest projects including the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first men on the moon.

Katherine Johnson’s story was made famous in the bestselling book and Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. Now in Reaching for the Moon she tells her own story for the first time, in a lively autobiography that will inspire young readers everywhere.

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