Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of by Helaine Becker ★★★★☆ #BookReview #BookBlog #STEM

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Primary Genre(s): Children’s Nonfiction
Published: 6 October 2020 by Kids Can Press
Page count: 40
My Format: eARC via NetGalley
Cover: Nice
Pacing: N/A
Ending: N/A
Would I recommend it: Maybe
Commission Link: Buy Emmy Noether

My rating: ★★★☆

Synopsis from Goodreads
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.

My Thoughts
Again, I’ve learned about someone I’ve never heard of before from a children’s book! Here are my pros and cons for Emmy Noether:

Pros

  1. I love that there are authors and publishers out there who provide books like this for children… and adults! I love learning about new people, especially women who were successful in what were considered very unwomanly activities at the time.
  2. The illustrations by Kari Rust were well done and sometimes even humorous. They definitely enhanced the book.
  3. The information provided focuses a lot on Emmy’s struggle to find a place in a man’s world. I think it is always a good reminder to girls and boys that things weren’t always as they are now, and that women were definitely prevented from not only studying math, but getting any kind of STEM education at all. Yes, there were exceptions to the rule and Emmy was definitely one of them. Woman today owe much to the strong, smart, persevering women like Emmy who showed the world that a woman’s brain is just as capable as a man’s in any field of study.
  4. Einstein is typically regarded as a genius and one of the smartest men in history. However, he was struggling with his Theory of Relativity because the theory seemed to indicate that energy was disappearing when applied to real-life situations. Energy can’t disappear. Many scientists were brought in to evaluate the problem and no one could figure out why energy seemed to be disappearing. But Emmy figured it out and thereby sealed the deal on E=mc^2 becoming the most famous equation in history! So perhaps Emmy was smarter than Einstein? At least in one area she seemed to be!
  5. According to Amazon.com, his book is targeted toward kids ages 6 to 9 years old. There were times throughout the book where I thought the discussion was a little elevated for that age group; however, the author did a great job of breaking down the complex concepts into simpler, more understandable elements.
  6. The Author’s Note provides a lot of additional information about Emmy and her accomplishments.

Cons

  1. Did you read the synopsis? If yes, you’ve essentially read the book. I really don’t like it when descriptions basically tell you the entire contents of the book.
  2. I didn’t feel like there was enough emphasis on what made her a “genius”. I felt like the book actually emphasized her struggles and the lack of credit for her contributions a bit more than on the contributions themselves.
  3. I wanted to know much more about her work with Einstein and his theory of relativity. The Author’s Note provides some additional detail, but it would have been nice to see that incorporated more into the text of the actual book and not as (what felt to me like) an afterthought in an author’s note.

Summary
I would have loved this book as a kid. I was very interested in everything “science” at that time and I’m sure this book would have appealed to me. My sister, however, was not into “science” when we were younger, and I am confident she would not have been interested in this at all. I think this book has a limited audience, but I would absolutely recommend it to anyone interested in STEM fields and particularly those interested in pioneering women in STEM fields.

I’m glad I read this even though I noted a few cons. I might have never heard of Emmy Noether if not for this book! For me, the book was successful because not only did I learn something, but the information piqued my interest enough to seek out more details about Emmy’s life and accomplishments. There are other nonfiction books out there about her, but I recommend starting with the Wikipedia article if you are interested.

Thank you NetGalley and Kids Can Press for a free eARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy Emmy Noether. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Click here for a description of my rating scale.

(image from Goodreads)

Where to find me:
Facebook: @kayckaybookreviews
Twitter: @kayckayreviews
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3 thoughts on “Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of by Helaine Becker ★★★★☆ #BookReview #BookBlog #STEM

  1. I love learning about women too. And I love reading children’s books about women! I wish these kinds of books existed when I was a kid. Maybe they did and I just didn’t have access to them, but I’m glad children have so many options today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree 100%! I used to read encyclopedias to get information like this when I was younger. I spent a TON of time in our local library, even as a very young kid in the 70s. I’d ride my bike there (it was near my house) and I’d spend hours there reading books. I don’t remember ever reading any books like this! I honestly don’t think they existed back then, or if they did, they were at least much more rare. I think that is why I love finding, reading and reviewing them now. Anything I can do to promote books like this is an absolute pleasure to me!

    Liked by 1 person

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