Review of Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer
by Traci Sorell; illus. by Natasha Donovan
Primary, Intermediate    Millbrook    32 pp.    g
3/21    978-1-5415-7914-9    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-7284-1901-5    $9.99

Sorell (We Are Still Here!, rev. 5/21) opens the book with a note on four “Cherokee values” that she uses to frame Ross’s (1908–2008) long life: “Gaining skills in all areas of life (both within and outside the classroom), working cooperatively with others, remaining humble when others recognize your talents, and helping ensure equal education and opportunity for all.” Through realistically cartooned digital illustrations and straightforward text, readers learn how Ross’s experiences reflected these traits. Because she valued learning and had a passion for math, Ross was able to persevere when “the boys refused to sit next to the only girl in math class.” This passion led her to a job as a mathematician for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, where she worked with others to design fighter planes as well as spacecraft. Her most important contribution was encouraging other women and American Indians to become engineers. An appended timeline, an author’s note, source notes, and a bibliography provide more details about Ross’s life and times. Also appended with Sorell’s Four Cherokee Values written using Cherokee syllabary and its transliteration; phonetic pronunciation in English; and English-language ­translation — features that help to preserve the language for future generations.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

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