Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by M.L. Shetterly and W. Conkling

  • Melanie Kim


Shetterly, Margot L and Winifred Conkling. Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race. Illustrated by Laura Freeman, Harper, 2018.

Based on The New York Times bestselling book and Academy Award-nominated movie, this historical picture book was inspired from the true story of the first four black women who worked at NASA. Author Margot Lee Shetterly follows the careers of these women who were really good at math, and their achievements as black women. Hidden Figures is illustrated by Laura Freeman, who has illustrated over twenty children’s books. To illustrate this book, she read the original book, watched the movie, and did research on NASA’s website to view archival photos. Freeman’s in-depth research has resulted in powerful images that enable the reader to feel the racial discrimination of the time. In addition, through the illustrations, the reader is able to see what the machine computers looked like at the time. An illustrated timeline and glossary page are provided at the end of the book; these pages will help readers to visualize the story. These illustrations will provide interest for all ages.

The text is written in simple English. However, there are some scientific terms. Therefore, for younger children, reading this book with adults or reading buddies is recommended. Moreover, going over the glossary pages with children before they read the book will help children to understand the story better. Overall, this book will help children to be aware of sexism and racism and the achievements of black women in the past.

Hidden figures is highly recommended for school libraries. Teachers can use this book as a cross-curricular resource for social studies, language arts, and health classes. The message from this book is for readers not to give up on achieving their goals. When children read this book, they can substitute their own difficult situation and get the courage to overcome obstacles.

Highly recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Melanie Kim

Melanie Kim is a University of Alberta Bachelor of Education undergraduate student, who encourages children to learn about children’s literature. Melanie thinks the best way to learn requires reading. 

How to Cite
KimM. (2019). Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by M.L. Shetterly and W. Conkling. The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.20361/dr29440
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