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Author: Margot Lee

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Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, Harper Imprint, 2016

Material: hard cover

Summary: In the 1940s, computers weren't machines, they were people with amazing talents in math. The National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NASA's predecessor) relied on these computers to take US aeronautics into space. NACA hired four extraordinary women: Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden. They loved math, they loved their work, and just like the astronauts they helped launch into orbit, they were pioneers as well. Establishing themselves not only as paving the way for women in professional careers, but dismantling stereotypes and prejudice about African Americans as well. This is a young reader's edition of the New York Times besttelling book.

Type of Reading: read aloud book, independent reading, reluctant reader

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and Up; yourself: 12 and Up

Interest Level: 12 and Up

Reading Level: 8.2

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: I saw the movie before I read the book. Both were extraordinary. Which should come first? It's hard to say. The book helped round out some of the details of everyday life at NACA, more background on the four leading ladies, and a better chronology. That said, being able to give Dorothy, Mary, Katherine, and Christine helped keep me from being bogged down by some of that same detail.

Pros: If you want true stories of strong women, then you want this book. This is narrative nonfiction at its best. Readers will quickly be drawn into the stories of these four amazing women and want to know more about women in science, history, and aeronautics.

Cons: None!

Borrow or Buy: Borrow for yourself and buy for a young woman interested in STEM.


Educational Themes: From STEM pioneers to understanding the development of the US space program, there are lots of science-y topics to explore. Hidden Figures also introduces four women who were ahead of their time and offers a front-row seat into the environments and people who influenced their lives.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - US history, biography, science, aeronautics, middle grade

Date(s) Reviewed: August 2017

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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