Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark
Published by Creston Books
All the way through this book I found myself thinking "well, who knew?" And I'm glad Laurie Wallmark knew this extraordinary true story of Lord Byron's estranged and brilliant daughter, Ada.
Ada Byron Lovelace was an early nineteenth century mathematician who laid the groundwork for computer programming: she wrote the first computer programme more than 100 years before the first computer was built. This book outlines some extraordinary details of her life such as being blinded (for weeks) and paralysed (for years) by measles as a child, to working on the first mathematical algorithm for a computer program for Charles Babbage's early computer idea (the Analytical Engine) at only seventeen. The author's note and timeline at the end are used to give more details of Ada's life which I found fascinating, however the story stands up well for children without these details.
Despite a couple of complicated words early on ('notorious' and 'scandalous', describing Lord Byron), Wallmark expresses complicated concepts well, with lively text in an engaging story format assisted by Chu's sumptuous period-inspired and detailed artwork. The intriguing use of perspective and the smattering of diagrammatic sketches put Chu's architectural background to good use in the illustrations for this story. She has also skilfully added a richness and warmth to the text by playing with natural elements, like the addition of a pet cat.
Ada’s story will be inspirational for girls with an interest in mathematics and computers, and perhaps it will even encourage some to enter this currently male-dominated field.
An engaging non-fiction book about a fascinating life and time and a great addition to the STEM collection in school libraries.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Laurie Wallmark
Illustrator: April Chu
Title: Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
Publisher: Creston Books, LLC
Published: March 2016