Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Book Wednesday - She Would Not Stop!

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!
         When I read books like this, I am always sad that the rules of societies and expectations of certain groups, long ago and today as well, keep children from learning, studying their passions, even going to school for education! 

              It's the true story of eighteenth-century mathematician Sophie Germain, who solved the unsolvable to achieve her dream. And no matter the restraints, from young Sophie to adult, she kept working to solve problems. Cheryl Bardoe's story emphasized the subtitle's theme, "nothing stopped Sophie" as she creates a story of a young French girl who was restrained in her study of math and confined in her home for some years because it was the time of the French Revolution, a dangerous time to be out. 
          Sophie's parents took away her candles to keep her from studying math. She did not stop! A professor discovered that the "brilliant" homework sent to him by a supposed male came from a female. Still, nothing stopped Sophie. She tackled a math problem to find a formula that would predict patterns of vibrations for a reward from the Academy of Sciences, was the only entry. She did not win, but tried again, then again, and finally she figured it out. There was only one entry again and it came from a woman! Bardoe writes that "her equation was as precise and eloquent as a poem."
           It's an inspiring text, another "she persisted" story, written with celebration of the life of this young girl growing into a woman who devoted her life to mathematics. Bardoe's author's note discusses her research including the challenges of conflicting stories, how many details to include to show the struggles for Sophie in following this passion because she was a woman. Barbara McClintock shares her background as an 'abysmal math student', wondering how she could possibly illustrate the pages for a famous mathematician. Because there was the content thread of allusions to vibrations, she chose to swirl numbers and equations around Sophie, and I also loved seeing math equations on buildings, the background of "math homework" accompanied by the homework mail flying off to the teacher. The vision to me meant Sophie's life, from early childhood, "whirled" with mathematics. 
The page spread showing men's response when Sophie won the prize.


  1. Weren't the endpages fantastic? Although in no shape way or form did it make me want to do any math :) Not my favorite subject :) :)

    1. Yes, they are wonderful, too. There is much that's terrific to see and enjoy in this one, Michele. Thanks!


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