Friday, June 23, 2017

Q&A with Laurie Wallmark

Laurie Wallmark is the author of the new children's picture book biography Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code. She also has written Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. She teaches computer science at Raritan Valley Community College, and she lives in Ringoes, New Jersey.

Q: Why did you decide to write this book for kids about Grace Hopper?

A: I think it’s important to show children that anyone, regardless of sex, race, religion, etc., can become a scientist or mathematician. Grace’s story might encourage a girl to become a computer scientist or open a boy to the wide diversity of people in the field. 

Q: How did you research the book, and what did you learn that especially surprised you?

A: I did most of my research through reading books about Grace and watching videos of her. I was most surprised to find out, contrary to what everyone says, that she was not the first person to use the word “bug” to represent a glitch in a machine. She was, though, the first to use it in reference to computer programs.

Q: What more do you hope your readers take away from Grace Hopper's story?

A: Dare and do! This was Grace’s personal motto.

Q: What do you think Katy Wu's illustrations add to the book?

A: One of the joys of writing picture books is seeing what the illustrator brings to the story. Children (and adults!) do judge a book by its cover. Luckily, Katy created has such a striking one.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’m currently revising a manuscript about another woman in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Amazingly enough, I could only find one trade picture book about a woman mathematician—Hypatia, who died in 415 AD. I’m determined to remedy this situation by writing one of my own.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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