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Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race - Margot Lee Shetterly, Laura Freeman , Winifred Conkling

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A great story to share with young readers. These women's journeys are inspiring and show what hard work can accomplish. While it is unfortunate that they were unrecognized for so long, it is wonderful to see their stories told in a variety of formats (picture books, adult non-fiction, film) in recent years.

Overall, the book was well done. Any of the issues I had with it pretty much stem from taking a full chapter book for adults and trying to reduce it down to a short read understandable to children. That's a big task and overall it was done well.

The illustrations were lovely. There was nice detail and I really enjoyed the space-themed/math-themed backgrounds. It was also cool to have other important figures from the time period come up in the illustrations such as Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., and Daisy Bates (although it might have been nice to label them somewhere since they were not explicitly mentioned in the text). These worked as a great point to branch off into discussions of the Civil Rights movements and a few important figures in African American history.

The book nicely incorporates definitions for tricky and unfamiliar works throughout the text. This is a great way to add in some extra teaching moments while still keeping the story going. There is also a glossary of terms at the end of the book.

I also thought the book did well setting the stage in describing segregation in a simple way that would be easy for children to understand. Throughout the book, it showed some of the changes made throughout time in a very simplified way. This worked well and allowed for expansion through discussion and explanation when reading with an adult.

I did find some of the narration choppy because of the time stretch and multiple women highlighted. It may have worked better to incorporate chapters for each woman instead of blurring them all together. Also, because it is so simplified, most of the women are reduced to "good at math. Really good." While this was obviously an important feature, I wish they were more developed and their other characteristics highlighted. One doesn't become NASA's first African-American supervisor or first female African-American aerospace engineer solely because one is good at math. It takes drive, passion, persuasion, persistence, bravery, determination, and a willingness to fight for what you want. I wanted more of these characteristics to come out, but again the small space dedicated to each woman didn't really allow for much elaboration.

At the end of the book are some additional resources for further information about the women. Besides the glossary, there is also a timeline of events including when each woman started and ended their work at NACA/NASA and a brief bio about each woman.

Overall, the book was well done. The short space only allowed for a very simplified version of events, but it is a great introduction to the contribution these women made as well as the history of segregation and the Civil Rights Movement.