Winner of Bank Street's Cook Prize
Giverny Award for The Best Science Book for Children
Bank Street List of Best Books of the Year
Garden State Award Shortlist
Towner Award (WA) Shortlist
Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award Shortlist
A Junior Library Guild Selection
ALA Amelia Bloomer List Selection
NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children
CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
Chicago Public Library Best Books of the Year
CCBC Best Books of 2018 - Starred Review
OLA Best Bets
Children’s Book Review Best Nonfiction Picture Books
Vermont Clover Award Shortlist
Mathical Honor Prize
Kirkus STARRED REVIEW
Korea Morning Calm Medal Shortlist
UKLA Award Shortlist
Silver Birch Express Honor Book
An Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee
STARRED REVIEW: "A picture-book biography of a humble genius who excelled in a career once out of reach for most African-Americans.
The 2016 film Hidden Figures tells the story of three black women who began working as human computers in the early 1950s for the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, which later became NASA. This book focuses on the life of one of those women, Katherine Johnson. From an early age, Katherine loved numbers and counted everything. Skipping three grades in school, Katherine was ready for high school at age 10, but her hometown in West Virginia allowed only white students to attend the high school. Her family moved to Institute, West Virginia, to enable Katherine to attend a black high school—from which she graduated at 14. Becker emphasizes Katherine’s tenacity, competence, creativity, and intellectual curiosity as she gains the trust of the astronauts whose safety and success depended on the work of the human computers. Phumiruk’s stylistically varied, colorful illustrations feature mathematical computations and notes in the backgrounds, emphasizing Katherine’s passion for numbers. Becker makes good use of the title, playing on different forms of the word “count” throughout the story, as when Katherine says, “Count on me” to calculate the Apollo’s flight paths.
An excellent biography that will inspire young readers, especially girls, to do what they love" - Kirkus Starred Review
"Featuring engaging text and captivating illustrations, this picture book introduces the amazing life of mathematician Katherine Johnson to young readers. Becker captures the drive and determination of Johnson through well-written text and a few puns; for instance, the phrase “You can count on me” is repeated by Johnson and once by her father. The narrative details both Johnson’s joyful childhood and her fury at segregated public schools; however, in discussing the challenges Johnson faced at NASA, Becker mainly focuses on sexism. The text doesn’t mention segregation at NASA, but it is portrayed in the illustrations. Becker compellingly conveys Johnson’s reputation for accuracy and her ¬critical -leadership role supporting many NASA programs, including Friendship 7, Apollo 11, Apollo 12, and Apollo 13. John Glenn would not fly until Johnson had signed off on the numbers for his trip. Phumiruk’s renderings help to elucidate scientific principles and bring the story to life. In addition, the images of blackboards teeming with mathematical equations that appear on the endpapers add to the book’s appeal. The work concludes with additional in-depth information about Johnson’s life along with a list of sources. VERDICT Sure to inspire a new generation of mathematicians. A solid addition to biography collections." - School Library Journal
"Counting on Katherine is a beautifully written biographical picture book about Katherine Johnson, NASA mathematician and all-around inspirational woman. Author Helaine Becker spoke with Katherine and her family in order to write this inspiring book which tells of a real little girl who didn’t let anything get in the way of pursuing her dream and who earned the trust and respect of everyone she met along the way. It is wonderful to see a biography written for this age group – the tone effortlessly blends fact with engaging language. The takeaways from the book are that much more powerful when you can relate it to an actual person’s lived experience. Children who are fascinated by space, by numbers, or by the universe in general can learn from Katherine’s life and explore new facets of these topics in her honour.
Dow Phumiruk’s illustrations are striking – full of colour and movement. Created digitally, using scans of watercolours and textures, the images are richly multi-dimensional. The scenery is vivid, the human figures are realistic but smooth around the edges, and the subtle inclusion of graphs, equations, and formulas throughout adds an element of surprise.
Counting on Katherine opens up a dialogue about race, perseverance, history, and equality. It is written with a focus on storytelling, but it is able to convey a lot of information about its central figure. It is great as an introduction to the biography genre for the young and curious, but it’s also just fun to read and explore space travel from the eyes of those who look up from the ground floor.
Recommended." - CM Magazine
"Children who want to share in the Hidden Figures buzz can start right here with a picture book biography of Katherine Johnson, who with the help of her determined parents leapt hurdle after hurdle in a racially separate and unequal educational system. After graduating college, she secured work at NACA (NASA’s forerunner) as a “computer” (as the humans who worked out the figures were known) in the opening years of the space race and eventually became so valued a team leader that John Glenn “refused to fly unless Katherine okayed the numbers.” Although Johnson’s contribution to the high-pressure rescue of the Apollo 13 crew is the climax here, the overall story is one of major historical developments: women mathematicians breaking into a men’s field; Black scientists breaking into a white science world; “computers” signifying humans with calculators; pioneering space journeys undertaken with a knowledge base and skillset that today seem unthinkably scant. Phumiruk’s digital artwork convincingly portrays Johnson as brainy and imaginative, in keeping with the author note observation that “her role . . . always involved more than mere number crunching. It relied heavily on hunches.” That combination of math and intuition also emerges visually in several embedded graphics that assist readers in understanding the trajectories Johnson calculated. This title is ready made for “My Hero” biography reports. A list of adult sources is included."
- Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books
"an inspiring story of a smart, strong, real-life women whose actions changed history. You know the movie Hidden Figures? It’s THAT Katherine Johnson. This kid-sized biography is for readers interested in STEM, women in science, history, space, segregation and world events. Counting On Katherine is a story kids will request day after day at home and in the classroom."
- Parent Club
"A wonderful book!" - - The Jewish Independent
"In Becker’s biography of the NASA mathematician, readers first meet Johnson as a child with boundless curiosity and a remarkable aptitude for mathematics. Due to segregation, Johnson’s family moved to a town with a black high school so that she could continue her studies. Her interest in research mathematics eventually led her to employment at NASA, doing the “tasks that men thought were boring and unimportant.” On the contrary, Becker emphasizes, the roles that Johnson and other women played were essential to determining a spaceship’s trajectory—a point made clear as Johnson calculates the flight path to ensure the safe return of Apollo 13. Phumiruk works in a crisp, uncluttered art style, infusing emotionality into more private moments of reflection. Johnson is pictured gazing at the moon, encircled with strings of mathematical equations: “She was no longer the kid who dreamed of what lay beyond the stars. She was now a star herself.” Ages 5–9." - Publishers Weekly
"This inspiring picture book for 6 to 8 year olds will inspire them to dream big and work hard to achieve those dreams, whether they’re young mathematicians or not. Books like this also make maths fascinating, which can only be a good thing – and make us realise how essential numbers are in a variety of careers. Last, it’s Johnson’s sheer gumption and brains that are most inspiring of all." - Booktrust
"Out-this world, inspirational story of the ingenious African American woman behind the Apollo 13 moon landings. Told with crystalline clarity and verve, and fabulously enhanced by the stylish illustrations, this tells the remarkable against-the-odds tale of Katherine Johnson from her days as an exceptional African American schoolgirl whose “boundless curiosity turned her into a star student”. But despite her brightness, ten-year-old Katherine faced the terrible restraints of segregation – as an African American she wasn’t permitted to study at her local high school. As she “burned with fury”, her family determined to get Katherine the education she deserved and so they moved to a town with a high school for black students. Her path to working on Project Apollo required incredible perseverance, but thanks to that, and to her outstanding mathematical skills, the world could count on Katherine to set the moon landings back on course.
Shot-through with a rousing sense of Katherine’s determination and dedication to her work, and with her shining mathematical brilliance, this beautiful book deserves to be on the shelves of every space-loving child." - LoveReading4Kids
"Featuring engaging text and captivating illustrations, this picture book introduces the amazing life of mathematician Katherine Johnson to young readers. Sure to inspire a new generation of mathematicians. A solid addition to biography collections."--School Library Journal
"The straightforward, informative text is paired with delicate, precise digital artwork. . . Very worthwhile book."--Booklist