Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu
There's a little rhyme in the end papers of Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu:
Software tester. Workplace jester.
Order seeker. Well-known speaker.
Gremlin finder. Software minder.
Clever thinker. Lifelong tinker.
Cherished mentor. Ace inventor.
Avid reader. Naval leader.
It's just a hint at what a brilliant thinker and accomplished woman Grace Hopper was. A picture book for young readers, Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code is an easy but comprehensive biography of Grace Hopper's amazing life. A tinkerer at a young age, Grace's early years sound very much like the kind of story I've heard from the many engineers I've known throughout the years. Curious how her alarm clock worked, she took a look at the inside of her clock but accidentally dismantled it. And, when she couldn't figure out how to put the clock back together, she taught herself how by taking apart every other clock in her house. She moved on to building an elevator for her dollhouse.
Grace's insatiable curiosity continued throughout her life and she was a trailblazer. After earning bachelor's and graduate degrees, she taught for many years then went on to join the U. S. Navy, where she spent time writing early programs in machine language and then teaching computers how to understand words. She inadvertantly came up with the term "bug" - meaning a computer glitch - when a moth was discovered in a computer that wasn't working. She contributed to the development of early computer languages like COBOL. And, she was so important to the work of the Navy that after she was forced to retire, they brought her back and she continued to work for 20 more years.
All of this is covered in Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code. I don't know what age this book is geared to but my family has never felt constrained by age limit suggestions and I'd happily read this book to my 3-year-old granddaughter, although she probably will need another year or two to really start to grasp it. Peppered with wise quotes by Hopper, the book is a wonderfully succinct bio of a brilliant woman, the kind of book little girls need to read as early as possible.
Highly recommended - What a wonderful book! While I particularly think this easy bio is a great way to introduce little girls to a strong and brilliant woman's career, don't ignore the boys. They need to learn that women are every bit as intelligent and capable as men as early as girls need to start hearing about successful women. Lucid prose, stylish and cheerful illustrations, and a deeply respectful tone make for an excellent true story of an extraordinary woman.
Addendum: I'm adding on a note because I had a conversation with my youngest son (who has a degree in Management Information Systems) and discovered something I would not otherwise have known. When I asked him if he was familiar with Grace Hopper, he said, "Admiral Grace Hopper? She's one of my heroes." The book doesn't mention the fact that she rose to the level of admiral in the Navy but I think it's worth mentioning that her full title was Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Hopper.
Last post for today. There will be more children's book reviews coming up, tomorrow!
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