The Story of the Unshakeable Mathematician Sophie Germain
by Cheryl Bardoe, published 2018
“Sophie discovered that mathematicians use numbers as poets use letters-as a language to question, explore, and solve the secrets of the universe.”
This historically accurate biography of a young girl living just after the French Revolution is a treat in many ways. As an illustrated children’s book, it scores very high for its very creative artwork by noted children’s book illustrator Barbara McClintock. She captures the historical era as well as creatively illustrating some of the math concepts.
The other lovely aspect of this illustrated children’s book is the text is well-written and interesting. It hasn’t been dumbed down, and has elements of poetry and philosophy as it explores Sophie’s love of mathematics.
Finally, a big contribution of this children’s book is a look at what women went through to enter the inner sanctums of areas such as mathematics. There’s no animosity in the book, rather it highlights her determination. Yet one can’t help but feel the injustice of the old systems lined up against brilliant women.
I would recommend this children’s book either as a read-aloud to six-year-olds, boys or girls, and then perhaps a seven or eight-year-old could read it independently. I think third graders would love this story.