Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
by Laurie Wallmark
illustrated by April Chu
This beautifully written and illustrated nonfiction picture book tells the story of Ada Byron Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, but more importantly, a girl who loved math and who would eventually create the world's first computer program.
At age 17, Ada met Charles Babbage, inventor of the Difference Engine, the first mechanical calculator. Babbage had also drawn up plans for a more powerful machine, an Analytical Engine. Ada began to study the Analytical Engine, and eventually understood more about it than anyone, perhaps even Babbage. In 1843, at age 27, Ada published her notes about the analytical engine, including the program she designed for it to calculate Bernoulli numbers.
The Analytical Engine was never built, which makes it all the more remarkable that Ada's program would have worked.
Laurie Wallmark has written an exciting tribute worthy of this amazing woman. The vividly written narrative reads like a story and keeps you turning pages. The illustrations by April Chu are gorgeous, and perfectly complement the text.
An author's note and timeline at the end of the book give more details about Ada Lovelace's life and work.
Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an annual celebration of women in STEM. What better way to celebrate than to buy this lovely book for a child in your life? (Or for yourself!)
Ada Lovelace was white, and in many ways lived a fairly privileged life. However, her story personally touched me; my math- and computer-loving younger self would have loved it. Ada has long been a hero of mine, and the illustration showing Ada turning the gears of the Difference Engine brought tears to my eyes.
It's hard to believe that in 2015 only 20% of software developers are women -- and that's worse than it was in the 1980s when I started as a programmer! We desperately need to encourage girls in the STEM fields, and this book can provide a much needed inspiration for both girls and boys.
Source: Digital review copy obtained from author.
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