ADA Byron Lovelace & the Thinking Machine

(Author) (Illustrator)

Product Details

$17.99  $16.73
Creston Books
Publish Date
9.2 X 11.1 X 0.5 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author

Laurie Wallmark has published stories in Highlights, Cricket, and other children's magazines. When not writing, she teaches computer science. Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine is her first book. Visit her blog at

April Chu began her career as an architect with a degree from the University of California, Berkeley, but decided to return to her true passion of illustrating and storytelling. She lives and works in Oakland, California. Her previous book, In a Village by the Sea, is also a Creston title and received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, as well as a rave review from the New York Times and Fuse #8. Learn more about her at


"Although her father, the Romantic poet Lord Byron, was bewitched by language, it was numbers that captured Ada Byron Lovelace's imagination. Raised by her mother, known as the 'Princess of Parallelograms' for her passion for geometry, young Ada filled journals with invention ideas, particularly a flying machine. When the measles left Ada blind and paralyzed for years, her mother kept her mind sharp with number problems. And, of course, Ada dreamed of her flying machine. A healthier, teenage Ada was tutored by the accomplished female mathematician Mary Fairfax Somerville, and she was introduced to Charles Babbage and his Difference Machine, a revolutionary calculator. Despite their age difference (she 17 and he 41), Ada was considered an equal, and Babbage asked for her help with his Analytical Engine, a mechanical computer. As she spent months creating an algorithm for the machine, she developed a new profession: computer programming. Soft, delicate yet detailed illustrations evoke Ada's wonder and accomplishments, with a final spread depicting a spacecraft--a flying machine come true--running a computer language called Ada in her honor. Back matter offers more information on Ada's life and the world's first computer program. A beautiful tribute to this female computer pioneer."--starred, Booklist


"Lovelace, who is often considered the world's first computer programmer, is a natural subject for a children's book, although not an easy one. Her short life included a sometimes lonely childhood as the daughter of the great Romantic poet Lord Byron and his mathematically gifted wife, an illness that left young Ada temporarily paralyzed and blind, and a remarkable professional partnership with one of the great mathematicians of the age, starting when she was only 17 and he was 41. The mathematician, Charles Babbage, was trying to build a mechanical computer; he trusted Ada, a passionate scholar who had studied math with an eminent tutor, to write the instructions that would allow the machine to operate. Those instructions, published in 1843, are thought by many to be the first computer program. Wallmark brings the story alive with grace and clarity; she never showboats, but she always finds the right word or phrase. Chu's vivid illustrations tell a story unto themselves, one of both mathematical precision and romantic flights of fancy. The image of Ada's sketches flying off the page is particularly arresting. A great choice for girls who love math or science."--Chicago Tribune


"Two hundred years after her birth in 1815, the world is finally beginning to pay attention to Ada Byron Lovelace, considered by many to be the inventor of computer programming. Computer scientist and debut author Wallmark introduces her subject as a child fascinated by numbers, lucky enough to be born to a geometry-loving mother with the means and inclination to nurture her daughter's talents. She focuses on her subject's adolescence, choosing details that highlight Lovelace's development as a mathematical genius. The girl sketches models for flying machines, works endless calculations to compute the wings' power--young readers will sympathize as they hear how 'writing for so long made her fingers hurt'--and studies a toy boat to see how minute adjustments to its sails affect its speed. A bout of measles that leaves her temporarily blind and paralyzed serves to further hone her brilliance, as her mother drills her with math problems. She is perfectly positioned for her fateful meeting with Charles Babbage, whose proposed Analytical Engine prompts her to write the algorithm (described as 'a set of mathematical instructions') that becomes the world's very first computer program. Chu's illustrations, digitally colored in a deep, jewel-toned palette, accompany the lively prose. Lovelace is a Pre-Raphaelite beauty set against a backdrop of teeming Victorian interiors littered with diagrams and pages of figures; children will enjoy spotting the girl's loyal cat.

A splendidly inspiring introduction to an unjustly overlooked woman."--starred, Kirkus Reviews


"This well-written and handsomely illustrated picture book biography details how Ada Lovelace Byron was able to write the first computer program more than 100 years before the first computer was built. Ever since she was a young girl, Lovelace was fascinated by numbers. As she was growing up, she filled her journals with ideas for inventions and equations. Her mother provided tutors to further develop Lovelace's passion for mathematics. When one of these tutors invited Lovelace and her mother to a gathering of scientists, she met the famous mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage. He was so impressed by Lovelace's knowledge that he invited her to his laboratory, where she learned about his idea for an Analytical Engine, a mechanical computer that would solve difficult problems by working them through step-by-step. She realized that this 'computer' would only work if it were provided with detailed instructions, and after much work, she succeeded in writing what is now referred to as the first computer program and in creating the profession of computer programming. The descriptive text and dazzling spreads work seamlessly to provide a sense of Lovelace's growing passion for mathematics and invention. The illustrations reflect the 19th century setting and contain numerous supporting details. For example, gears that will eventually become part of the design of the Analytic Engine are featured throughout; in the corners of the title page, on the pages of Ada's journals, and on Babbage's chalkboard. VERDICT An excellent addition to STEM collections."--starred, School Library Journal


"Wallmark makes her children's book debut with an inspiring and informative account of 19th-century mathematician Lovelace, who is considered to be the world's first computer programmer. Lovelace's mathematical passions are evident from the first pages, as Chu shows the infant in a bassinet, reaching for a mobile of stars and numbers (she's adjoined by her mother, whose own interests earned her the nickname 'The Princess of Parallelograms, ' and her father, poet Lord Byron). Wallmark moves swiftly through Lovelace's life, facing obstacles that included a bout of measles that temporarily left her blind and paralyzed, as well as societal attitudes toward women in the sciences. Lovelace found a kindred spirit in inventor Charles Babbage, eventually creating 'the world's first computer program' for his Analytical Machine. Chu brings the same grace and precision to this book as she did to In a Village by the Sea, and her finely detailed pencilwork is ideally suited to the schematics, blueprints, and mechanical implements that surround Lovelace and Babbage as they work, not to mention the stately apparel and architecture of their Victorian surroundings."--starred, Publishers Weekly


"Ada Byron Lovelace's fascinating, overlooked story is just beginning to get the recognition it deserves, and this handsome picture-book biography does it justice. We meet the daughter of Lord Byron, the famous Romantic poet, as a young girl besotted by numbers and encouraged to pursue mathematics by her mother, who loved geometry. A bout with measles leaves her blind and bedridden, but she uses the time productively: Mama posed ever harder problems, and Ada solved them all. When she recovers and later meets the mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage who has plans for a thinking machine. his Analytical Engine, but hasn't actually built it, Ada's destiny is set in motion. In her debut picture book, Wallmark manages to create an atmosphere of suspense as she clearly lays out the steps Ada took to come up with the first algorithm that could allow a machine to solve complex math problems. The digital art by Chu (In a Village by the Sea) adds to the story's intellectually riveting quality, making Ada and her refined world look somehow both pre-Raphaelite and cool."--The New York Times