Kirkus Reviews QR Code
NUMBERS IN MOTION by Laurie Wallmark


Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics

by Laurie Wallmark ; illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-939547-63-7
Publisher: Creston

The first woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics gets her due.

This engrossing portrait of Sophie Kowalevski (1850-1891) traces her struggles and eventual success despite assumptions about women made in her native Russia and the various countries in which she obtained an education. Though the pale, relatively small type may be a trifle difficult for young (or older) eyes to decipher, all else works quite well here. Distinctive, stylized illustrations portray Sophie’s world in exaggerated proportions using unusual points of view. They are dotted with mathematical formulae while concise, accessible text tells Sophie’s story, emphasizing how men’s perceptions of women were ever present obstacles. Her fascination with math and her development as a mathematician pervade the text. In her childhood, she lived in a room wallpapered in math problems and explored physics by herself, much to the surprise of others. As a young adult she made a marriage of convenience that allowed her to travel from Russia to Germany, where she studied—but, as a woman, was only allowed to audit classes initially. The story continues, depicting her trials and failures as a mathematician, her struggles to be recognized in all-male academic settings, and her many achievements and awards. Informative endnotes round out this intriguing selection.

An inspiring choice for budding feminists, explorers, historians, and scientists.

(Picture book/biography. 7-10)