cover image Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13

Helaine Becker, illus. by Dow Phumiruk. Holt, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-13752-4

In Becker’s biography of the NASA mathematician, readers first meet Johnson as a child with boundless curiosity and a remarkable aptitude for mathematics. Due to segregation, Johnson’s family moved to a town with a black high school so that she could continue her studies. Her interest in research mathematics eventually led her to employment at NASA, doing the “tasks that men thought were boring and unimportant.” On the contrary, Becker emphasizes, the roles that Johnson and other women played were essential to determining a spaceship’s trajectory—a point made clear as Johnson calculates the flight path to ensure the safe return of Apollo 13. Phumiruk works in a crisp, uncluttered art style, infusing emotionality into more private moments of reflection. Johnson is pictured gazing at the moon, encircled with strings of mathematical equations: “She was no longer the kid who dreamed of what lay beyond the stars. She was now a star herself.” Ages 5–9[em]. (June) [/em]