Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson. Atheneum, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5344-4083-8
African-American research mathematician and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Johnson, of Hidden Figures fame, imbues this narrative of the first half of her life with her daily realities in the segregated South. Stressing the importance of self-worth and education to black advancement, Johnson’s parents struggled to ensure that all their children graduated from college. Gifted Johnson did so early, at age 18, and then taught math while embarking on marriage and motherhood. In 1953, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (predecessor of NASA) hired Johnson as a “computer” to perform mathematical calculations for engineers at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory. The impeccable quality of Johnson’s work and the essential questions she asked led to special assignments, including hand-checking the early IBM computers’ calculations for John Glenn’s 1962 orbits of the Earth and work on the trajectory of the Apollo 11 lunar landing module, breaking cultural norms along the way. An epilogue covers the recognition and honors Johnson has received since 1969. Alternately warmly personal and coolly observant, Johnson is always clear in her explanations. Black-and-white photos illustrate this highly accessible memoir by a groundbreaking woman. Ages 10–up. (July)
Reviewed on : 06/20/2019
Release date: 07/02/2019
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 978-1-5082-9773-4
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