Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain
by Cheryl Bardoe; Illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Little Brown and Company (June 12, 2018)
Audience: Grades 2 to 5
Nonfiction * Biography * Women * STEM
IndieBound | WorldCat
Description from GoodReads: The true story of eighteenth-century mathematician Sophie Germain, who solved the unsolvable to achieve her dream.
When her parents took away her candles to keep their young daughter from studying math...nothing stopped Sophie. When a professor discovered that the homework sent to him under a male pen name came from a woman...nothing stopped Sophie. And when she tackled a math problem that male scholars said would be impossible to solve...still, nothing stopped Sophie.
For six years Sophie Germain used her love of math and her undeniable determination to test equations that would predict patterns of vibrations. She eventually became the first woman to win a grand prize from France's prestigious Academy of Sciences for her formula, which laid the groundwork for much of modern architecture (and can be seen in the book's illustrations).
Award-winning author Cheryl Bardoe's inspiring and poetic text is brought to life by acclaimed artist Barbara McClintock's intricate pen-and-ink, watercolor, and collage illustrations in this true story about a woman who let nothing stop her.
Quick thoughts about this book:
When I look back on my childhood, I sometimes feel completely deprived. Well deprived in terms of books. I wonder at times what my life would be like if I had been able to read more biographies about women both as a child and then a teen. I remember in high school stumbling across a dusty old biography on Elizabeth Cady Stanton and felt like I had discovered gold. In my tiny community library, I found what biographies I could about women. Mostly there were biographies about actresses or women athletes or women writers, but never about women scientists or mathematicians. I sometimes wonder if choices I made would have been different if I was exposed more to women in the science or math fields.
These days, as I discover picture book biographies, on little known women scientist and mathematicians, I take a moment to appreciate that an author chose to shine a light on this extraordinary woman and all that she had to endure in order to pursue her passion and to do the work she was created to do.
When I picked up Nothing Stopped Sophie, I was especially touched by her dedication, perseverance, and constant pursuit of her love of numbers and math. Bardoe works to bring Sophie alive on the pages of the book and to impress upon the reader what it was like for a woman in the 18th Century to pursue mathematics as a field of study.
I was also moved by McClintock's illustrator note at the end and how she worked to incorporate numbers and other features to highlight the theory on vibrations. Through both text and illustrations, readers will grow to appreciate the brilliant thinking of Sophie Germain and how even years later, her work applies to things around us.
Look for Nothing Stopped Sophie at your local indie bookstore or community library.
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