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ARC Review: More Kids’ Nonfiction Books Read in January 2023: Rebel Girls

Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code by Corinne Purtill

Publication Date: January 17, 2023


From the world of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes a story based on the exciting adventures of Ada Lovelace: one of the world’s first computer programmers.

Growing up in nineteenth century London, England, Ada is curious about absolutely everything. She is obsessed with machines and with creatures that fly. She even designs her own flying laboratory!

According to her mother, Ada is a bit too wild, so she encourages Ada to study math. At first Ada thinks: Bleh! Who can get excited about a subject without pictures? But she soon falls in love with it. One day she encounters a mysterious machine, and from that moment forward Ada imagines a future full of possibility—one that will eventually inspire the digital age nearly two hundred years later.

Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code is the story of a pioneer in the computer sciences, and a testament to women’s invaluable contributions to STEM throughout history.

Includes additional text on Ada Lovelace’s lasting legacy, as well as educational activities designed to teach simple coding and mathematical concepts.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was brilliant! I have always loved reading about Ada Lovelace and her friend Charles Babbage and their work, and even though this is written for early chapter readers, it’s up there with some of my favorite stories about them.

The writing is SO good. It’s easy to read and understand, and my third grader would have no trouble with it. At the same time, it tells Ada’s story in a really powerful way that sucks you in and has you instantly empathizing with her as she struggles with her loneliness and her mother’s strict rules and frequent changes of governess.

When she is struck with a new idea, you can really feel her excitement and eagerness and brilliance. For most of the book it felt like being dragged breathlessly along behind as she charged ahead with new ideas.

The author chooses to end the story with her feeling sharp pains but imagining what the future of computers will look like. Then in a note at the end, it says she died very shortly thereafter. I like this choice because sensitive kids can read it and not be too upset by it (in my experience, kids don’t particularly like reading the notes at the end). And even if they do read it, it is related in a very dry factual way that is less impactful than ending the story (which is quite emotional) with it.

Even so I found myself tearing up a little at the end — and when was the last time that happened with an early chapter book? Not for a Very long time.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Rebel Girls for providing an early copy for review.

Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business by Denene Millner

Publication Date: January 17, 2023


From the world of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes a story based on the life of Madam C.J. Walker: America’s first female self-made millionaire.

Sarah is the first person in her family who wasn’t born into slavery in Delta, Louisiana. But being free doesn’t mean that Sarah doesn’t have to work. She cooks, she cleans, she picks cotton, she does laundry, and she babysits. And when she works, she wraps up her hair.

One day, Sarah’s hair starts to fall out! It’s itchy, crunchy, patchy, and won’t grow. Instead of giving up, Sarah searches for the right products. And then she invents something better than any shampoo or hair oil she’s used before. Her hair grows and grows! That’s when she decides to rebrand herself as “Madam C.J. Walker,” and begins her business empire.

Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business is the story of a leader in the hair care industry, but it’s also an inspiring tale about the importance of empowering women to become economically independent.

Includes additional text on Madam C.J. Walker’s lasting legacy, as well as educational activities designed to teach entrepreneurship.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book packed a LOT of information – and a lot of tough subjects – inside. I had planned to read it with my kiddo (8) but while he could read the text he isn’t ready for the subject matter.

It was very well written and Sarah’s journey from picking cotton to being one of the richest businesswomen in America because of her determination and drive was very compelling and fascinating reading. I enjoyed it a lot.

I would definitely recommend it to older chapter book readers (4th-6th grade) because of the content (lynching, among other things). It’s an important subject to read about, and I think most older elementary school students should read it, but my sensitive 3rd grader is definitely not ready to handle it.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Rebel Girls for providing an early copy for review.

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls: 100 Inspiring Young Changemakers by Rebel Girls

Publication Date: October 4, 2022


The fifth volume of the best-selling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series, 100 Inspiring Young Changemakers, includes 100 stories of extraordinary young women who have made their mark on the world.

Readers will celebrate well-known activists Greta Thunberg and Mari Copeny and meet new names like inventors Riya Karumanchi, who developed a smart cane for the visually impaired, and Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López, who used recycled materials to build solar-powered water heaters for families who lacked hot water. Each story is told in a whimsical fairy tale style and is paired with a bold, full-page portrait drawn by a female or nonbinary artist. In addition to showcasing the stories of incredible young people, the book features the work of young authors, artists, and editors.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As with previous Rebel Girls books, the stories included here are inspiring and educational. This volume focuses on ‘young changemakers’ – girls age 5 to teens who are making a difference and changing the world in a variety of ways, from music and the arts to sports to activism to being proud of their bodies and their heritage. The one-page stories are concise and easy-t0-read but also emotional and inspiring. They are also very diverse. The illustrations are lovely and complement the text well.

I would recommend this to school and classroom libraries as well as children and teens of all genders.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Rebel Girls for providing an early copy for review.

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