By Dean Robbins; Illustrated by Lucy Knisley
Alfred A. Knopf. 2017
I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library to write this review.
Note: Louise is reading and composing all the reviews while Cathy is on sabbatical. Cathy returns February, 2018.
Dean Robbins, (Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass) has done a fantastic job in this engaging picture book biography about an inquisitive woman who grew up during the 30’s and 40’s to write code for the computer commands on the Apollo missions.
Margaret Heafield Hamilton “loved to solve problems. She came up with ideas no one had ever thought of before.” She also asked lots of questions.
“Why didn’t girls play baseball?”
“Why didn’t more girls grow up to be doctors?
Or anything else they wanted?”
Her solution to answering those questions, and more, was to study.
After earning a degree in mathematics, Margaret found she loved writing code for computers. As a software engineer, she went to work for NASA in 1964, to help the scientist use computers to land astronauts on the moon. The book’s climax comes when the computer on the lunar module, The Eagle, goes into overload from performing too many tasks. Margaret had prepared for this problem. Margaret’s code made the computer ignore the extra tasks and focus on the landing.”
“The Eagle has landed,” announced astronaut Neil Armstrong.”
A comic book artist, Knisley's illustrations, rendered in ink, paper, and colored in Adobe Photoshop, perfectly complement the text, offering an element of excitment. I love her full-page art.
Back matter includes a lengthy author’s note, bibliography, and additional reading. In the acknowledgement section of the book, Robbins thanks Margaret Hamilton for “generously sharing her life story.”
This is an excellent addition to science collections.
FYI: When I searched for more information about Margaret Hamilton in several encyclopedias (Britannica, Funk and Wagnall’s, and World book) she is not listed. The only source of information was Wikipedia.
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