Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine – plus Giveaway!

Growing up I was a math and science girl. I completed two degrees in engineering and my day job is in the computer industry. It is my pleasure to bring to you today’s book review about Ada Lovelace. Ada is recognized as having created the first algorithm (“computer program”) to be carried out on a mechanical machine. Can you believe it the first programmer was a woman! What is sad is that even though I studied computer programming, I had never heard of Ada Lovelace until a few years ago when I saw a Google Doodle about her. I am thrilled to see this children’s biography about her life and contributions and hope it will inspire today’s girls.

Check-out my interview with author Laurie Wallmark.

Ada coverTitle: Ada Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

Author: Laurie Wallmark
Illustrator: April Chu
Publisher: Creston Books (October 13, 2015)
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 6-10
Themes: Women in Science, Mathematics

Opening Lines:

Ada was born into a world of poetry, but numbers, not words, captured her imagination.

Her mother, Lady Byron, had a passion for geometry. In fact, her nickname was “The Princess of Parallelograms.”

But her famous father dominated the household. Beloved for his Romantic poems, Lord Byron was a celebrity throughout the world.

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the famous romantic poet, Lord Byron, develops her creativity through science and math. When she meets Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, Ada understands the machine better than anyone else and writes the world’s first computer program in order to demonstrate its capabilities.

Activities:

Why I Like this Book:

A story about one girl’s love for numbers. Numbers were Ada’s friends, they kept her occupied and engaged. They even kept her mind sharp when she temporarily blind due to illness. The author beautifully shows us Ada’s inquiring nature as she progresses from sketching models for flying machines to computing the wings’ power, leading her to eventually collaborating with Charles Babbage on the Analytical Engine. Unfortunately this complex machine was not completed so Ada never got to see her program run but her influence lives on in modern computing.

I was surprised to learn that she was the daughter of the famous poet, Lord Byron, and that her mother loved geometry. I was also intrigued by the fact that there were women that studied math, such as Ada’s tutor Mary Fairfax Somerville. You just don’t learn about women in scientific pursuits for that time period in general history courses. While we do see Ada’s mom encouraging her in analytical thinking, the disparaging opinions of the Nanny give the reader a sense of what was considered appropriate pursuits for girls.

The pencil and paper drawing with the lush digital coloring are gorgeous. I do like the subtle shows of humor by the artist such as the cat hiding in Ada’s bag or the frog in the bathroom. Ms. Chu has elegantly captured Ada’s inquisitiveness and love for science. On one spread Ada is looking at a flock of birds taking flight and the bird that is right over her head is drawn as a mechanical bird, showing us Ada’s curiosity. Click here to see the mechanical bird image plus others from the book.

A detailed author’s note, timeline, and bibliography will help facilitate further investigation. This book is good for use in upper elementary classrooms.

Giveaway:

For a chance to win this book, leave a comment. Deadline to enter is Thursday, September 17th at 9pm PST. Winner will receive the book at time of release in October. Contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

Find Ada Lovelace and the Thinking Machine at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1939547202
ISBN-13: 978-1939547200

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

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27 Responses to “Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine – plus Giveaway!”

  1. Hi Darshana,How are you? Would love to win this book. Love books about women achiements.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to read and review my book. Laurie

  3. Wow, this is a story I didn’t know! This is an excellent book for the classroom! It may inspire girls in their study of mathematics. and hopefully a love of numbers! Excellent choice for the beginning of the school year!

  4. What a wonderful resource for children to learn from and be inspired by. I would donate it to my children’s school.

  5. I love science books–and excited to be introduced to a new personality! Thanks for sharing this one, Darshana.

  6. Laurie is an awesome author. You should get thus book.

  7. I would love to win a copy of this book! I am fascinated by her story and will have to look it up myself.

  8. Thanks for the review Darshana! Will definitely add this to my reading list. Pleasantly surprised to see April Chu as illustrator. Love her work.

  9. So glad to know about this book. Would love to win it to give to my two granddaughters!
    Thanks for another great suggestion, Darshana.

  10. I wish I’d had a book like this as a child. It sounds like it will help girls grasp the concept that their options are limitless. I love the style of the illustrations. I’d never heard of Ada either. Thanks for teaching me something new today. 🙂

  11. This looks like a great book to give to STEM-oriented girls… maybe keep their interest in technical things. I wish I’d known about Ada when I was in high school – I was intimidated by computers (well, they WERE huge! and required punchcards)

  12. What a great find Darshana! Nice review about a fascinating book!

  13. I enjoyed reading about Laurie’s research on Ada, and I’d love to know if she shared any ideas with April about the illustrations or if April had to research period-appropriate clothing, etc. Thanks Darshana!

  14. So happy to see a math book about one of the female mathematicians that is reachable to a younger audience.

  15. Would love to have this book to diversify our children’s library!!

  16. Ooh, I need to read this book with my kids! Computer science is big in our house, and although I have heard of Ada I don’t know very much about her.

  17. The winner of the giveaway is Sarah Alford!! Congratulations.

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