As book and (wannabe) science nerds, when Ada’s Ideas first landed on our desks we were pretty excited. Ada Lovelace is the original science girl crush, and luckily Fiona Robinson’s words and illustration bring her to life beautifully.
As a first time reader of Fiona Robinson’s work, let me first say “Wow!” And now can I please read more of her stunning picture books!
The first thing that must be admired about Robinson’s book, Ada’s Ideas – The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer, is the beautiful and vibrant illustrations. They jump off the page, truly bringing these characters (back!) to life, and perfectly reflecting the pace and excitement of the story. Each page could be framed as its own piece of art.
My personal favourite is the two-page spread which shows Ada’s typical day, where we see Ada sliding down her harp, climbing up her tower of books, perched on her abacus, and reading French to her cat Puff. The reader’s eyes devour the pages to take in the illustrations, as well as the narrative.
This book is a historical biography for children. It tells the story of Ada Lovelace, born in 1815, daughter of the poet Lord Byron and the mathematician Anne Isabella Milbanke. Ada inherits her father’s creative imagination and her mother’s skill with numbers and analytics. Not wanting Ada to follow in her father’s wild footsteps, Ada’s mother vows to keep her daughter buried in mathematics and out of the kind of trouble a vivid imagination might lead to!
Ada however discovers that talents are not confined to being only creative or only analytical, and that to harness both can lead to amazing inventions – like flying horses and machines that can count. Ada encounters other well-known historical talents as she grows up, and this book captures her story vividly.
“The reader’s eyes devour the pages to take in the illustrations, as well as the narrative.”
As well as providing some historical reference to events such as the Industrial Revolution and the inventor Charles Babbage, the moral of this true story is still true today and is an important one for children to read. It is that imagination should be nurtured, and talents lie in many different areas, so you do not have to be this or that but can be this and that and more! And of course that you are capable of anything.
Robinson has succeeded in translating this 19th century world into narrative and pictures which will encapsulate the 21st century child’s imagination, and continue to do so for many more years to come I am sure.
“… imagination should be nurtured, and talents lie in many different areas, so you do not have to be this or that but can be this and that and more!”