Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or astronauts walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used their knowledge, pencils, adding machines, and writing paper to calculate the orbital mechanics needed to launch spacecraft. Katherine Johnson was one of these mathematicians who used trajectories and complex equations to chart the space program. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws were in place in the early 1950s, Katherine worked analyzing data at the NACA (later NASA) Langley laboratory. In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine Johnson was called upon and John Glenn said “get the girl” (Katherine Johnson) to run the numbers by hand to chart the complexity of the orbital flight. He knew that his flight couldn’t work without her unique skills. President Barack Obama awarded Katherine Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and her incredible life inspired the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. Get to know this incredible and inspirational woman with this beautifully illustrated picture book from an award-winning duo.
Lesa Cline-Ransome is the author of many books for children, including My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle &amp;amp; Journey to Alvin Ailey, which was an ALA Notable Book, an IRA Notable Book for a Global Society, and an NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended title for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children; Satchel Paige, an ALA Notable Book and a Top 10 Sports Book for Youth; and Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass, which The New York Times Book Review called, “visceral, intimate, and plainly told, this story is sure to move young children, and also motivate them to read more.” Her books were all illustrated by her husband, James E. Ransome. A graduate of the Pratt Institute, she holds a master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from NYU. She lives with her family in upstate New York. Visit her at LesaClineRansome.com.
Raúl Colón has illustrated several highly acclaimed picture books, including Draw!; the New York Times bestselling Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt; Susanna Reich’s José! Born to Dance; and Jill Biden’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops. Mr. Colón lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New City, New York, with his family.
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