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Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13

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The story of Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race and was depicted in the book and film Hidden Figures. You've likely heard of the historic Apollo 13 moon landing. But do you know about the mathematical genius who made sure that Apollo 13 returned safely home? As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted The story of Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race and was depicted in the book and film Hidden Figures. You've likely heard of the historic Apollo 13 moon landing. But do you know about the mathematical genius who made sure that Apollo 13 returned safely home? As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted the steps on the road, the number of dishes and spoons she washed in the kitchen sink, everything! Boundless, curious, and excited by calculations, young Katherine longed to know as much as she could about math, about the universe. From Katherine's early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, this is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.


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The story of Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race and was depicted in the book and film Hidden Figures. You've likely heard of the historic Apollo 13 moon landing. But do you know about the mathematical genius who made sure that Apollo 13 returned safely home? As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted The story of Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race and was depicted in the book and film Hidden Figures. You've likely heard of the historic Apollo 13 moon landing. But do you know about the mathematical genius who made sure that Apollo 13 returned safely home? As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted the steps on the road, the number of dishes and spoons she washed in the kitchen sink, everything! Boundless, curious, and excited by calculations, young Katherine longed to know as much as she could about math, about the universe. From Katherine's early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, this is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.

30 review for Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13

  1. 5 out of 5

    KC

    A well written biography about Katherine Johnson, her work with NASA, and how she saved Apollo 13 ("Houston, we have a problem"). Read along with Hidden Figures.

  2. 4 out of 5

    LauraW

    This is Hidden Figures for the younger set and is well worth its while. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, but I think this book is even better at giving a coherent picture of how Katherine Johnson did what she did. If there is any critique I would make about the book, it would be that it doesn't make quite a big enough point about both the sexism and racism that she faced. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Desiree Sotomayor

    I really liked the flow of this one & design. Everyone's heard of Apollo 13, although Katherine Johnson is probably someone not too many folks know, which needs to change!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen Upper

    What a brilliant, approachable story! the author's succinct phrasing coupled with the fabulous illustrations by Dow Phumiruk are a perfect pairing in allowing young readers to grasp the momentous importance of this woman! Not only did she open the door for Afro-American women, but for all women in the workplace! What an empowering narrative! Thank you for gifting young readers with empowerment! Kudos!🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Highly recommended for elementary school and public libraries!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mireille Messier

    A passion for numbers and a strong will to persevere in the face of seemingly impossible hurdles are what make the story of mathematician Katherine Johnson such a compelling biography. Author Helaine Becker really knocks it out of the park with a clear, concise and kid-friendly retelling of Katherine Johnson's fascinating life. Clever math-filled illustrations by Dow Phumiruk are the icing on the cake. An absolute must for every household and elementary classroom!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Having loved the film Hidden Figures enough to have bought the book that tells the story of Katherine Johnson's involvement in the space race, I was thrilled to find this picture book. Since it covers some of the similar territory from the film and then goes even further, readers will be immersed in the world of numbers and calculations so loved by Katherine even from a young age. Not only does the book tell about her formative years and her schooling but her job as a computer at NASA. Eventuall Having loved the film Hidden Figures enough to have bought the book that tells the story of Katherine Johnson's involvement in the space race, I was thrilled to find this picture book. Since it covers some of the similar territory from the film and then goes even further, readers will be immersed in the world of numbers and calculations so loved by Katherine even from a young age. Not only does the book tell about her formative years and her schooling but her job as a computer at NASA. Eventually, of course, it would be her calculations that would guide the space craft Apollo XIII homeward when it experienced problems while in flight. Created digitally with Adobe Photoshop and watercolor and texture scans, the illustrations are filled with mathematical formulas and equations that come to life through the artist's hands. I am thrilled to see this woman receive so much well-deserved attention and be able to share this book with my students since Katherine Johnson clearly broke barriers. I do agree with another reviewer who suggested that the sexism and racism she faced were touched on rather lightly, and it might have been valuable for young readers to learn more about how she dealt with them. Still, her achievements stand on their own merit, and this is a wonderful book for a collection about mathematicians and ground-breakers.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Margie

    With the reading of each picture book biography, our lives are enriched. For now, even if we had heard of the selected individual previously, we know more. We understand their youth. We understand those who supported them in following their passions and goals. We understand the obstacles they overcame. We understand the power of a single dedicated and determined individual. On November 24, 2015 President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Freedom to Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who worked With the reading of each picture book biography, our lives are enriched. For now, even if we had heard of the selected individual previously, we know more. We understand their youth. We understand those who supported them in following their passions and goals. We understand the obstacles they overcame. We understand the power of a single dedicated and determined individual. On November 24, 2015 President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Freedom to Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who worked at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) during the historical time period when Americans first went to space. Her contributions are immeasurable. Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 (Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt And Company, June 19, 2018) written by Helaine Becker with illustrations by Dow Phumiruk is an informative and moving tribute to an extraordinary woman. My full recommendation: http://librariansquest.blogspot.com/2...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Tournas

    This is a great picture book biography of Katherine Johnson, one of the African-American women hired as “computers” at NASA in the 1960’s, and whose character is featured in the movie Hidden Figures. I love how the book emphasizes her love of school, especially math, and how she persevered in her education and goal of working as a mathematician. I also like that the author does not shy away from the racism that Johnson experienced in her life. The digital illustrations are charming and portray This is a great picture book biography of Katherine Johnson, one of the African-American women hired as “computers” at NASA in the 1960’s, and whose character is featured in the movie Hidden Figures. I love how the book emphasizes her love of school, especially math, and how she persevered in her education and goal of working as a mathematician. I also like that the author does not shy away from the racism that Johnson experienced in her life. The digital illustrations are charming and portray Johnson and her family and NASA with enough information to help kids see how the times were different. Back matter includes additional information and sources. The end papers are full of computations which are fun to contemplate.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jillian

    Great book, (slightly) misleading title. The book is 32 pages long, if you count the note at the end, and Apollo 13 appears on page 23 and lasts 5 pages. The book is much more about Katherine Johnson's life and career as a whole, and while Apollo 13 was a HUGE deal and she deserves all the credit possible (where was she in the movie, Ron Howard???) I don't think it's fair to say this book is "about" her saving Apollo 13 when it's really a biography. End of soapbox. Katherine Johnson is amazing, th Great book, (slightly) misleading title. The book is 32 pages long, if you count the note at the end, and Apollo 13 appears on page 23 and lasts 5 pages. The book is much more about Katherine Johnson's life and career as a whole, and while Apollo 13 was a HUGE deal and she deserves all the credit possible (where was she in the movie, Ron Howard???) I don't think it's fair to say this book is "about" her saving Apollo 13 when it's really a biography. End of soapbox. Katherine Johnson is amazing, the illustrations are pretty cool, and it was neat to learn more about her career after the Mercury program.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    I was given an ARC of this delightful picture book and am so glad I got to read it! The author does a wonderful job engaging young readers from page one regarding one of the "Hidden Figures" behind the scenes during the US space travel era. It's a great introduction to the math and science involved in space flight and how one woman - Katherine Johnson - brought astronauts safely back home from their orbits around the earth. An excellent and entertaining addition to STEM curriculum in the classro I was given an ARC of this delightful picture book and am so glad I got to read it! The author does a wonderful job engaging young readers from page one regarding one of the "Hidden Figures" behind the scenes during the US space travel era. It's a great introduction to the math and science involved in space flight and how one woman - Katherine Johnson - brought astronauts safely back home from their orbits around the earth. An excellent and entertaining addition to STEM curriculum in the classroom.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jana

    This awesome picture book biography tells the inspiring story of Katherine Johnson, a research mathematician who was an instrumental part of our country's space program during the race to the moon. Johnson was a bright little girl who overcame obstacles such as gender and race discrimination in order to become a prominent mathematician at NASA. Beautifully illustrated and engaging narrative text, along with more information in an author's note, make this a nice nonfiction resource to add to your This awesome picture book biography tells the inspiring story of Katherine Johnson, a research mathematician who was an instrumental part of our country's space program during the race to the moon. Johnson was a bright little girl who overcame obstacles such as gender and race discrimination in order to become a prominent mathematician at NASA. Beautifully illustrated and engaging narrative text, along with more information in an author's note, make this a nice nonfiction resource to add to your bookshelf. This could also be a great starting point for further research for young students.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    What a great way to introduce Katherine Johnson and math as a valuable skill to have. This picture book goes beyond the movie "Hidden Figures" and tells something of Mary's early life and what she achieved as an adult. And ends with Katherine's success with the NASA space program. More of an older picture book with detail and facts and what Katherine did to solve the problem of getting the astronauts home from space. Makes a factual source for kids in upper middle elementary working on topics fo What a great way to introduce Katherine Johnson and math as a valuable skill to have. This picture book goes beyond the movie "Hidden Figures" and tells something of Mary's early life and what she achieved as an adult. And ends with Katherine's success with the NASA space program. More of an older picture book with detail and facts and what Katherine did to solve the problem of getting the astronauts home from space. Makes a factual source for kids in upper middle elementary working on topics for reports about famous Americans.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amy Lafleur

    Katherine loved to count but won't count stars in sky. Nevertheless the stars fascinate Katherine. She's super curious and smart, but faces challenges due to her skin color and through being female. This picture book biography focuses on Katherine's persistence to become a mathematician and how her calculations saved Apollo 13. Katherine's persistence and determination comes through in the repetition of "count on me" throughout the book. Helaine Becker also includes more information about Kather Katherine loved to count but won't count stars in sky. Nevertheless the stars fascinate Katherine. She's super curious and smart, but faces challenges due to her skin color and through being female. This picture book biography focuses on Katherine's persistence to become a mathematician and how her calculations saved Apollo 13. Katherine's persistence and determination comes through in the repetition of "count on me" throughout the book. Helaine Becker also includes more information about Katherine Johnson.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    A great and inspiring story about Katherine Johnson's love of math, her drive to learn and her role in the NASA space program, most famously Apollo 13. It may be a great precursor to watching the film Hidden Figures. This is a wonderful picture book for kids, especially girls, about having a dream, working hard for it, including through detours, and the work involved in having a really important job, where lives do actually depend on you. I was struck by her confidence - that's inspirational.

  15. 5 out of 5

    The Bookies Bookstore

    "The magnificent true story of Katherine Johnson. She was made famous by the film HIDDEN FIGURES, but her story starts much earlier. The book is full of inspiration, facts and wonderful artwork. It presents a truth that we need more than ever-you can overcome anything, any odds, if you work hard enough and do not accept the limitations put on you before you are ever born."-Bookie Luke

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    If I could give this book TEN stars, I totally would! Great picture book biography about Katherine Johnson (see also movie "Hidden Figures") - one of the first black women "computers" to work for NASA. An amazing story and a great springboard to further research.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Day

    What a great book about an amazing person whose story should be shared far and wide. I interviewed Helaine Becker on Book Time about Counting on Katherine, about Katherine Johnson, a woman who helped bring Apollo 13 home.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ami

    A beautifully illustrated book that gives a broader picture of the life of Katherine Johnson for young children and those who want a quick and lovely look at one of the heroines of the U.S. space program and Hidden Figures.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Peacegal

    The recent avalanche of high-quality, inspiring picture book biographies is one trend I can certainly get behind! This is another wonderfully engaging and empowering story--adults will learn as much as the kids!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Kennar

    So hard to believe that up until a few years ago, with the release of the film Hidden Figures, most of us had never heard of Katherine Johnson. My son and I enjoyed it, and it now sits on his shelf near his books about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alida

    Very nice. How I wish I had these kind of books when I was a kid. Ms. Helaine, could you please start a series for female scientists? I would love to see Hypatia and Marie Curie treated the same way as you've done Katherine.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan Waltman

    Amazing book about one of the women who did the calculations for NASA for space flight. It is amazing to think this was done well before computers. This is one of the women the movie "Hidden Figures" is about.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laura Roettiger

    An excellent biography of Katherine Johnson. I can’t wait to share this with students when school starts. The illustrations are amazing and learning of the obstacles she faced along the way is truly inspiring.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tommie Branscum

    "You can count on me" is the refrain we have in this beautifully illustrated story format biography. I think it is fantastically written with a younger audience in mind and is an important story from history that needed to be told to a wider audience.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Great introduction to Katherine and how important she was to the space program. Additional information at the back including resources for more information.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    Great picture book biography. Highly recommended for ages 7-10. Would be a good classroom read-aloud.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jacqui

    3.5

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    Biography of Katherine Johnson for young to middle grade readers. The illustrations support the text and pull the reader into the her life story. Takes us from childhood to after Apollo 13.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cassaundra

    This is a very informative picture book for upper elementary children!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heather Jo

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. megan summer reading 2018, children's book, biography, science, nasa, segregation, women,

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