Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark


Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark

Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the famous romantic poet, Lord Byron, develops her creativity through science and math. When she meets Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, Ada understands the machine better than anyone else and writes the world's first computer program in order to demonstrate its capabilities.


What a fascinating story! This vividly-written, gorgeously illustrated picture book biography brings to life the personality and amazing accomplishments of the astonishing 19th century female mathematician who conceived of the idea of computer programming long before there were even computers and is literally the mother of computer science. I can't wait to share it with my students! -- Carol Simon Levin, Youth Services Librarian and Historical Impersonator of Fascinating Women History Forgot

--young readers will sympathize as they hear how writing for so long made her fingers hurt --and studies a toy boat to see how minute adjustments to its sails affect its speed. A bout of measles that leaves her temporarily blind and paralyzed serves to further hone her brilliance, as her mother drills her with math problems. She is perfectly positioned for her fateful meeting with Charles Babbage, whose proposed Analytical Engine prompts her to write the algorithm (described as a set of mathematical instructions ) that becomes the world's very first computer program. Chu's illustrations, digitally colored in a deep, jewel-toned palette, accompany the lively prose. Lovelace is a Pre-Raphaelite beauty set against a backdrop of teeming Victorian interiors littered with diagrams and pages of figures; children will enjoy spotting the girl's loyal cat. A splendidly inspiring introduction to an unjustly overlooked woman. (author's note, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8) -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review Wallmark makes her children's book debut with an inspiring and informative account of 19th-century mathematician Lovelace, who is considered to be the world's first computer programmer. Lovelace's mathematical passions are evident from the first pages, as Chu shows the infant in a bassinet, reaching for a mobile of stars and numbers (she's adjoined by her mother, whose own interests earned her the nickname The Princess of Parallelograms, and her father, poet Lord Byron). Wallmark moves swiftly through Lovelace's life, facing obstacles that included a bout of measles that temporarily left her blind and paralyzed, as well as societal attitudes toward women in the sciences. Lovelace found a kindred spirit in inventor Charles Babbage, eventually creating the world's first computer program for his Analytical Machine. Chu brings the same grace and precision to this book as she did to In a Village by the Sea, and her finely detailed pencilwork is ideally suited to the schematics, blueprints, and mechanical implements that surround Lovelace and Babbage as they work, not to mention the stately apparel and architecture of their Victorian surroundings. --Publishers Weekly, STARRED review Laurie Wallmark has written an exciting tribute worthy of this amazing woman. The vividly written narrative reads like a story and keeps you turning pages. The illustrations by April Chu are gorgeous, and perfectly complement the text. An author's note and timeline at the end of the book give more details about Ada Lovelace's life and work. --Wands and Worlds Reviews Soft, delicate yet detailed illustrations evoke Ada's wonder and accomplishments, with a final spread depicting a spacecraft--a flying machine come true--running a computer language called Ada in her honor. Back matter offers more information on Ada's life and the world's first computer program. A beautiful tribute to this female computer pioneer. --Booklist, STARRED review This picture book is a visually rich peek into Victorian high society, an inspiring tribute to the life of the mind, and a fine introduction to Ada Byron Lovelace, a lesser-known pioneer in the field of computer science. Discover: A visually stunning picture-book biography of Ada Byron Lovelace, a 19th-century English mathematician whose ideas contributed to the invention of the modern-day computer. --Karin Snelson, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness Wallmark brings the story alive with grace and clarity; she never showboats, but she always finds the right word or phrase. Chu's vivid illustrations tell a story unto themselves, one of both mathematical precision and romantic flights of fancy. The image of Ada's sketches flying off the page is particularly arresting. A great choice for girls who love math or science. --Chicago Tribune Eureka Gold Medal Winner for Children's Nonfiction --California Reading Association Booklist Top Ten Books in Science and Health Booklist Editor's Choice: Books for Youth 2015 Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 for 2016, National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Children's Book Council Ada Byron Lovelace's fascinating, overlooked story is just beginning to get the recognition it deserves, and this handsome picture-book biography does it justice. We meet the daughter of Lord Byron, the famous Romantic poet, as a young girl besotted by numbers and encouraged to pursue mathematics by her mother, who loved geometry. A bout with measles leaves her blind and bedridden, but she uses the time productively: Mama posed ever harder problems, and Ada solved them all. When she recovers and later meets the mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage -- who has plans for a thinking machine, his Analytical Engine, but hasn't actually built it -- Ada's destiny is set in motion. In her debut picture book, Wallmark manages to create an atmosphere of suspense as she clearly lays out the steps Ada took to come up with the first algorithm that could allow a machine to solve complex math problems. The digital art by Chu ( In a Village by the Sea ) adds to the story's intellectually riveting quality, making Ada and her refined world look somehow both pre-Raphaelite and cool. --New York Times The combination of Wallmark's passionate text and April Chu's superb bold illustrations make this book stand out from the pack. Children will appreciate the fact Chu included a playful cat in the illustrations, adding interest and continuity from page to page. Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine is likely to resonate with kids interested in computers, math, and engineering and inspire some who haven't yet found their passions. History buffs, particularly those interested in women's history, will also want to check it out. --Nonfiction Monday Best Fiction for Children & Teens This beautifully illustrated biography introduces future programmers to the life of Ada Byron Lovelace, the child of Lord Byron, who loved inventing things. Your little one will get inspired as they learn about The Princess of Parallelograms and how her passion for math and science as a child led her to become the world's first computer programmer. --Today's Parent This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Ada Byron Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron the poet, and how she grew up fascinated by numbers and what she could make them do. When she was bedridden by measles, her interest in mathematics grew even more. When she became a young woman, she meets Mary Fairfax Somerville, a well-known female scientist and mathematician. Through Somerville, Ada met Charles Babbage, who had invented the first computer/calculator. Though Babbage continued to develop the mechanics of the Difference Engine, it was Ada who figured out how to program it in a way that made it more efficient. We live in a world where math heroes often fly under the radar, and where most elementary children have never imagined that a female mathematician could make a difference in t he world -- let alone in the world of the early 1800s. Math teachers who care about their female students should thank Laurie Wallmark and April Chu for creating this book, then they should immediately order this book for their classroom. Right away. -- Bill Boerman-Cornell, professor of Children's Literature and Disciplinary Literacy, Trinity College, Illinois The 510s shelves are hardly in danger of collapsing under the weight of children's books about women mathematicians, and librarians will welcome this picture book biography of Augusta Ada Lovelace, whose assistance to Charles Babbage resulted in what is credited as the first computer program. Wallmark offers a smooth narrative that blends the human-interest details of her life--the absence of her famous poet father, the influence and support of her mathematically gifted mother, her tempo- rary blinding and paralysis from measles--with the importance of her own work, particularly her invention designs and the algorithms she wrote that would theoreti- cally enable Babbage's Analytical Engine to function. While Lovelace's achievement gets the spotlight in the main text, Wallmark acknowledges in a closing note that her accomplishments were hidden from most contemporaries behind the cryptic A.A.L. with which she signed her work. Wallmark also effectively explains the mathematical innovation in simple terms, stressing Lovelace's knack for breaking down complex tasks into orderly steps, which would enable machines to perform complex calculations more easily and quickly than a the most nimble person armed only with a pencil. Chu's illustrations, colored on an Analytical Engine, are occasionally stiff, but they're an intriguing mashup of Pixar-style polish and romantic Victorian detail. An appended timeline, which hints at further landmarks of Lovelace's adult life, may encourage readers to seek out more information via the bibliography; a note on Ada Lovelace Day should spark celebratory activities, especially among the STEM girls, in October. --Recommended, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books This well-written and handsomely illustrated picture book biography details how Ada Lovelace Byron was able to write the first computer program more than 100 years before the first computer was built...The descriptive text and dazzling spreads work seamlessly to provide a sense of Lovelace's growing passion for mathematics and invention. The illustrations reflect the 19th-century setting and contain numerous supporting details. For example, gears that will eventually become part of the design of the Analytic Engine are featured throughout: in the corners of the title page, on the pages of Ada's journals, and on Babbage's chalkboard. VERDICT An excellent addition to STEM collections. --Starred Review, School Library Journal Outstanding Book --Association of Children's Librarians of Northern California Outstanding Merit, Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year This extraordinary bio of a Victorian-era mathematician who anticipated computer programming is fascinating and easy to read. Author Laurie Wallmark tells the story deftly, highlighting just the right human and dramatic detail, and April Chu's art brings Ada and her passions vividly to life. --Common Sense Media

About the Author

Laurie Wallmark has published stories in Highlights, Cricket, and other children's magazines. When not writing, she teaches computer science. Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine is her first book. Visit her blog at April Chu began her career as an architect with a degree from the University of California, Berkeley, but decided to return to her true passion of illustrating and storytelling. She lives and works in Oakland, California. Her previous book, In a Village by the Sea, is also a Creston title and received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, as well as a rave review from the New York Times and Fuse #8. Learn more about her at

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Book Info


40 pages
Interest Age: From 5


Laurie Wallmark
More books by Laurie Wallmark


Publication date

29th October 2015



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