The Brilliant Calculator:

How Mathematician Edith Clarke Helped Electrify America

Calkins Creek/Astra Books for Young Readers, 2023.

ISBN 978-1-6626-8006-9

40 pages, Ages 7-10 years (Grades 2-5)

HIDDEN FIGURES meets ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER in this STEM/STEAM picture book about Edith Clarke, the innovator who solved an electrical mystery and built the first graphing calculator–from paper!”

This non-fiction picture book features Edith Clarke, America’s first female electrical engineer, as she uses her exceptional mathematical knowledge to transform the expansion of electrical power transmission during the 1920s and beyond. Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for the invention of a graphical calculator that solved complex equations ten times faster than a human, Edith Clarke rose from the role of “human computor” to pre-eminence in her chosen profession. A key figure in 20th century engineering, Edith Clarke foreshadowed today’s electrical “Smart Grid” almost a hundred years ago.

Illustrations by Susan Reagan.

“For those girl mathematicians who enjoy problems and delight in solving mathematical puzzles, electrical engineering is an ideal profession.” (Edith Clarke, 1940)

Society of Women Engineers Archives

THE BRILLIANT CALCULATOR: HOW MATHEMATICIAN EDITH CLARKE HELPED ELECTRIFY AMERICA has been named a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection!

KIRKUS:

Skillfully told and illustrated, this story is full of details and depth. The full-color images catch the eye and playfully include mathematical puzzles.  .  .  .  This one will inspire and validate any readers who love mathematics and calculations, especially anyone who has felt marginalized within STEM fields.  .  .  .  Rousing encouragement for readers–especially math-minded ones–to follow their dreams.” (December 14, 2022)

BOOKLIST: 

” .  .  . [T]he text tells Clarke’s story in terms that are accessible to children and offers more information in the extensive back matter. The attractive illustrations, drawn digitally and brightened with watercolors, do a particularly good job of portraying Clarke as she gradually grows from childhood to maturity. An intriguing introduction to a trailblazing woman in the field of electrical engineering.” (Carolyn Phelan, 1/1/23)

THE BRILLIANT CALCULATOR has been named to the 2024 Best STEM Books award list by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC), a list of the best children’s books with STEM content published in 2023.

 

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL Blog, A Fuse 8 Production, “2023 Math Books for Kids”:

” . . . when I read a book like The Brilliant Calculator about Edith Clarke I notice several smart choices throughout. Fake dialogue? Not present. Is the story itself more fun than the backmatter? You betcha. Plus this is a smart duo of author and artist to pair together .  .  . Here they have to prove their mettle in one specific way: Are they afraid of numbers? I’m not kidding about this  .  .  . Ms. Reagan does include math in the details of the art .  .  .  [and] with her accurate rendition of the Clarke Calculator patent, I am certain everything checks out. Great writing, an interesting person to learn about, and some truly awesome art. A winner!

(Betsy Bird, 12/9/23)

RISE: A Feminist Book Project, part of the Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association, has selected THE BRILLIANT CALCULATOR as one of the titles to be honored this year on the Rise 2024 Booklist, which “recommends recent books with significant feminist content for readers from birth to 18 years old.”

“Our committee found this book to be a beautifully illustrated important introduction to Edith Clarke’s life and accomplishments. We are so grateful you wrote it!”

THE BRILLIANT CALCULATOR has been named a MATHICAL HONOR BOOK for 2024!

Many thanks to the Selection Committee and to the Mathical Book Prize Organizers: the Simons Laufer Mathematical Sciences Institute (SLMath), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and the Children’s Book Council (CBC).

MATH + LITERATURE = MATHICAL BOOKS!!

THE BRILLIANT CALCULATOR has been named by the Bank Street College of Education as one of the year’s Best Children’s Books (2024 Edition)–and was recognized as having “Outstanding Merit”!