In this engaging and inspiring biography, a groundbreaking but relatively unknown woman finally gets her due as one of the most influential mathematicians of the twentieth century.
Emmy Noether is not pretty, quiet, good at housework or eager to marry --- all the things a German girl is expected to be in her time. What she is, though, is a genius at math. When she grows up, she finds a way to first study math at a university (by sitting in, not actually enrolling) and then to teach it (by doing so for free). She also manages to do her own research into some of the most pressing math and physics problems of the day. And though she doesn't get much credit during her lifetime, her discoveries continue to influence how we understand the world today.
Bestselling and award-winning Helaine Becker has crafted an engaging look at the life of Emmy Noether, a contemporary of Einstein's and one of the most influential, though little known, mathematicians of the twentieth century. Despite the obstacles she faced as a woman in a male-dominated field, and as a Jew who had to flee the Nazis, Emmy still accomplished a great deal. Artwork by Kari Rust uses touches of humor for emphasis and a golden glowing effect around Emmy to visually express her brilliance and ideas. Back matter includes a biographical note, explanations of complex mathematical concepts and suggestions for further reading. There are curriculum links to physics and mathematics --- subjects portrayed here as fascinating and exciting --- and poignant real-life character education lessons on courage and perseverance. ISBN 978-1525300592 $19.99 CA/$18.99 US
"This picture book tells the life story of a little-known female mathematician. Emmy Noether always excelled in math even as a young girl growing up in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century. She preferred doing puzzles to playing the piano or doing things expected of girls at that time. Emmy wanted to attend university to study math, but this was not permitted at that time. Her father was a professor there, so she was allowed to sit in on classes. Even though the male students resented her because of her intelligence, they often asked her for help with homework without giving her credit. Eventually she was accepted into the university, but even after earning a degree, she was not permitted to teach men. About this time, Albert Einstein was developing his theories of relativity and Noether helped solve one of the problems in his theory. While working on that problem, she thought about related laws of physics and discovered that the laws of symmetry and conservation are linked. Her work on the principle of symmetry became known as Noether’s Theorem. The author does an excellent job in explaining physics in terms that are easy to understand, aided by the illustrator’s appealing drawings which are hand drawn and digitally colored. For instance, the illustrator demonstrates symmetrical motion by showing Emmy on a swing. This book works well as a read aloud and uses a checklist format to begin and end Noether’s story.
THOUGHTS: This is an excellent picture book biography that shows how one woman overcame obstacles in order to reach her goals. This text could be used to introduce basic physics in science units. Becker’s work would also be a good choice for Women’s History Month. Elementary librarians should consider adding this one to their biography or math sections."
- PSLA Media Selection Review