Committee Picks: Counting on Katherine (Review)

Posted by on Apr 7, 2019 in Featured Titles, News | No Comments

The following review of 2019 Mathical Honor Book Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker was submitted by Mathical Selection Committee member Fran Wilson.

Katherine loved to count and other people counted on Katherine!  Inspired by too many stars to count in the nighttime sky, Katherine Johnson dreamed of studying numbers, learning about the universe, and becoming a mathematician.

Persisting despite prejudice and discrimination due to both her race and her gender, Katherine soared towards her dream and was hired by NASA to be one of their human computers. Her careful calculations led to several successful missions in space.  After an unexpected explosion aboard the Apollo 13 occurred, the astronauts counted on Katherine to calculate the flight path to bring them safely back to earth.

This beautifully illustrated biography of Katherine Johnson reveals the power of math.  The end pages filled with math problems, formulas, calculations, and even an image of a young Katherine completing the calculations invite the reader into the book.  Children, especially young girls, can count on being motivated to pursue careers in math after reading about Katherine Johnson.

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
By Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 2018


Fran Wilson is a second grade teacher at Madeira Elementary School in Cincinnati, Ohio.