[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Postscript to the Series of Katherine Johnson Biographies

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

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Our reading theme for July-September is Binge-Read: Book Series Marathon. We are expanding the range of this theme to include books that fit the following deliberately-nebulous criteria:

  1. Books that are part of an ongoing series
  2. Themed stories: books that are technically not part of a series, but fit a specific theme – e.g. intergenerational stories, nature-themed stories
  3. Short story collections
  4. Narratives of a similar genre
  5. Stories written by same author

I am happy to cap off the series of Katherine Johnson picturebook biographies with this story of four Black women which started it all: Hidden Figures. See here for Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.


Hidden Figures: The True Story Of Four Black Women And The Space Race (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Margot Lee Shetterly Illustrated by Laura Freeman
Published by Harper Collins (2018)
ISBN: 9780062742469 (ISBN10: 0062742469). Literary Award: Coretta Scott King Book Award Nominee, Illustrator (2019) Borrowed via Maktaba Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

This picturebook is fairly ambitious in the sense that it attempts to put together snapshots of stories around four Black women who were hired at various points in time by NASA, known at the time as NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics).

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The story started with how Dorothy Vaughan joined NACA, followed by Mary Jackson, then Katherine Johnson, and finally Christine Darden. An evident thread throughout the narrative is the inequality and discrimination that was keenly felt during this period in history – and how the four women were able to overcome these oppressive conditions nonetheless.

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I personally feel that the storytelling would have worked better for me, if each women were featured more prominently with more explicit transition or even BOLD introductory pages so that younger readers would not feel confused or interchange one story with another.

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Regardless, the story remains a powerful testament to the brilliance and fortitude of these four astounding women scientists and mathematicians whose stories need to be told again and again for more young people to read and know about.

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 77 out of target 100

July 28, 2021 at 06:30AM Myra Garces-Bacsal