After a childhood spent looking up at the stars, Caroline Herschel was the first woman to discover a comet and to earn a salary for scientific research. Florence Nightingale was a trailblazing nurse whose work reformed hospitals and one of the founders of the field of medical statistics. The first female electrical engineer, Hertha Marks Ayrton registered twenty-six patents for her inventions.
Marie Tharp helped create the first map of the entire ocean floor, which helped scientists understand our subaquatic world and suggested how the continents shifted. A mathematical prodigy, Katherine Johnson calculated trajectories and launch windows for many NASA projects including the Apollo 11 mission. Edna Lee Paisano, a citizen of the Nez Perce Nation, was the first Native American to work full time for the Census Bureau, overseeing a large increase in American Indian and Alaskan Native representation. And Vera Rubin studied more than two hundred galaxies and found the first strong evidence for dark matter.
Told in vibrant, evocative poems, this stunning novel celebrates seven remarkable women who used math as their key to explore the mysteries of the universe and grew up to do innovative work that changed the world.
JA: Looking back from when a book is ready to go into the world, it all seems delicious. But I’ll get to the more truthful part with your next question. For me, the small things within big stories are what make my mouth water. I can read through many generalizations without wanting to sit up straight, but when I run across something like doctors calling Florence Nightingale the Lady with a Hammer, or the names of Marie Tharp’s poodles or the linoleum flooring shop where Vera Rubin got a free cardboard tube to construct a telescope with her father, I feel as if I’ve been invited into a life. I need to get back to the math behind discoveries, but often the small things help me shape a poem.