Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race Margot Lee Shetterly is the picture book version of her book for adults (which was also adapted for young readers and you can read my review here) with illustrations by Laura Freeman. I'm grateful for this adaptation, as I am constantly trying to hook students on the young readers' edition and find it challenging to encompass the many layers of segregation and discrimination these remarkable mathematicians faced and the invaluable contributions they made to the space race.
Hidden Figures sets the stage, letting readers know that having the best airplanes would help the United States win World War II and also that, at the time, computers weren't machines, but actual people like Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden. Shetterly then details the segregation laws that existed in Virginia at the time, the home of NASA's Langley Laboratory, writing, "Even though they worked on the same kinds of assignments, the black computers and white computers used separate bathrooms and ate in separate lunchrooms."
Hidden Figures goes on to illustrate the discrimination and segregation these brilliant women faced as they persisted, making major contributions to all aspects of the working being done at Langley, from analyzing turbulence to prevent plane crashes to programming the machines that took the place of the human computers so that they didn't make mistakes to planning John Glenn's exact route from takeoff to splashdown. Shetterly wraps up this abbreviated version of her book for adults with the changes to segregation laws and developments at NASA and Christine Darden's part in the moon mission. Back matter includes an illustrated timeline, biographies of each of the women, a glossary and an author's note that will inspire readers to want to know more.

Source: Review Copy


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