Review Detail

The Lovelace Legacy
(Updated: October 29, 2015)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)  
 
5.0
Learning Value 
 
4.0
This book is essentially a 40 page illustrated biography, suitable for children ages 6 and up. Offering a bit of childhood background to help set the stage, it brings to life the true story of how the estranged daughter of a famous (and infamous) poet became a mathematical visionary—not to mention one of the founding influences to modern computer programming. The obvious female-empowerment potential aside, the story also contains an inspiring emphasis on persevering in the midst of physical disability.

With no orienting date given for Ada’s birth, parents may feel the need to expand on parts of this book with a bit of independent research. The transitions toward the beginning are somewhat choppy, but successfully convey the passion Ada felt for the idea of a flying machine just before her debilitating bout with measles. But the childhood background isn’t accompanied by her specific age during various events. The first mention of her age occurs halfway through when, at 17, she is introduced to the inventor Charles Babbage. Her collaboration with him is certainly the highlight of the story—relaying not only a friendship built on a mutual understanding of the numerical, but the fact that their significant generational gap made her thoughts no less respectable to him.

The book mentions that Charles Babbage never finished building his “Analytical Engine,” and so Ada never got to see her program run. Unfortunately it isn’t explained why Babbage didn’t finish, and the way it wraps up so quickly after divulging this may feel a bit unsatisfying to some readers.

I would advise reading the Author’s note at the end. Though the text there is dense and unfortunately doesn’t offer any imagery, it does better round out Ada’s life and offers more sense for when and how her contributions were eventually recognized post-humorously. Also there it mentions that Lovelace had to use a pen name to hide her gender, as was common in those times. All things I wish could have made it into the book itself.

The artwork is nothing short of stunning. April Chu illustrates Ada’s life and experiences with warm use of color and exquisitely high detail. She manages to capture both a feel for the era, and a lively range of human emotion.

“I am never really satisfied that I understand anything, because, understand it as well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand.” – Ada Lovelace
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