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Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code

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“If you’ve got a good idea, and you know it’s going to work, go ahead and do it.” The picture book biography of Grace Hopper—the boundary-breaking woman who revolutionized computer science.

Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English,” and throughout her life succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly is “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys.

48 pages, Hardcover

First published May 16, 2017

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About the author

Laurie Wallmark

12 books44 followers
Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark writes picture book biographies of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as well as fiction. Her books have earned multiple starred trade reviews, been chosen as Junior Library Guild Selections, and received awards such as Outstanding Science Trade Book, Best STEM Book, Crystal Kite Award, Cook Prize Honor, and Parents’ Choice Gold Medal. Her titles include ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE, GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE, HEDY LAMARR’S DOUBLE LIFE, NUMBERS IN MOTION, CODE BREAKER, SPY HUNTER, and DINO PAJAMA PARTY. Laurie has an MFA in Writing from VCFA and frequently presents at schools as well as national professional conferences (NSTA, NCTE, ALA, TLA, etc.). She is a former software engineer and computer science professor. You can find Laurie on the Web at www.lauriewallmark.com and @lauriewallmark.

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602 (52%)
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412 (35%)
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108 (9%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 224 reviews
Profile Image for Ms. B.
2,908 reviews35 followers
September 27, 2021
Well-done picture book biography about Grace Hopper, a twentieth century woman who dedicated her life to tinkering, inventing, math & science and computers. She graduated high school early and worked until she was 80 years old!
Profile Image for Kid Lit Reviews.
376 reviews59 followers
June 1, 2017
Grace Hopper was a brilliant woman, mathematician, a Naval Admiral, and the Queen of Coding. Once upon a time computers knew two things: 0 and 1. Plus, to use a computer one had to be a scientist or a mathematician. Grace Hopper thought it would be better if computers could be used by anyone and to do that, computers needed to be able to understand more than 0 and 1; they needed to understand words.

Hopper’s creativity and brilliance came from her determined stance against the status quo. When one says, “We’ve always done it this way,” they halt creativity, ingenuity, and problem-solving. Hopper fought against it, keeping two items to remind her to think “out of the box:” a Jolly Roger flag and a clock that ran backward. Little nuggets like these are like gold and Grace Hopper: Queen of Coding is made of gold.

Hopper used to say, “If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it because it’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.”

Teachers will find Grace Hopper: Queen of Coding inspiring. Not only did she learn to overcome failures and disappointments, she learned how to forge a new path in computer science and for women interested in any STEM field.

Originally reviewed on Kid Lit Reviews. To read the complete review and see illustrations, go to: http://bit.ly/GraceHopper-QueenComput...
Profile Image for Katie.
513 reviews11 followers
July 1, 2017
The more pages I turned, the more I loved this book. At first I was worried it was another attempt to make a biography for children that would be too long and too dry to hold the attention of young children. And for preschoolers it might be too long. However, for children 5 and up, this is a wonderful book. The illustrations are engaging and have little quotes from the character that are more than just repeats of the text-but they work with the illustrations so they are not distracting. The text itself would be easy for children to understand, and enjoy especially kiddos who want to learn, like nonfiction, or want a true story.

I would not use this as a read-a-loud for a young group, unless you skipped some pages and essentially shortened the story. That being said I think it would be a wonderful read aloud in an elementary school, or even middle school, or as a bedtime story to a small group who are able to sit though a book with a little more than the usual number of pages. This would be a great introduction to biographies, and nonfiction.
Profile Image for Stephanie Anze.
657 reviews112 followers
August 29, 2019

Grace Hopper was curious. She wanted to know how things worked. This passion for knowledge followed her from school to college and then to the Navy. Grace slowly but surely left her mark, becoming a pioneer in computer programming and an inspiration for us all.

Prior to reading this book, I had never before heard the name of Grace Hopper. Now that I know it, I will certainly not forget it any time soon. She was such an amazing and accomplished woman and someone that that is worthy of our respect and admiration. This book is an abridged biograhy for children but also a great introduction to her for those unfamiliar with her life. I love the colors and illustrations and its easy flowing prose. Wallmart highlights Hopper's achievements without underscoring the the fight she put to get them. I love this book and look forward to reading a more comprehensive biography of her life soon.

Grace Hopper is one impressive lady. She was a computer scientist and a United States Navy rear Admiral. She graduted from Yale with a Ph. D in Mathematics. A pioneer in computer programming, Grace Hopper is largely responsible for making the use of computers accessible to everyone. When the computer was first introduced, you had to be a be computer scientist or a mathematician in order to know how to use it. Hopper changed the 0 and 1 code for English words, thus making programming simpler. In 2016, President Obama posthumously awarded Grace Hopper the Presidential Medal of Freedom (which only adds to the long list of other awards she had already garnered). I am so happy to have read this book. Consider my curiosity piqued.

Fun fact: Grace Hopper coined the term "computer bug".
Profile Image for Mathew.
1,492 reviews170 followers
April 11, 2021
An accessible and delightful biography of Hopper whose desire to succeed and take on any challenge, no matter what the obstacle, is enough to inspire any young reader. Raised in a time where female engineers, technicians and naval officers were rare to the point of non-existence, Grace, through her intellect and sheer force of will, broke down so many barriers and dragged us all into a generation of computer science. Inventing smarter, more versatile ways of using and implementing computer code, Grace's life and sense of quizzical ambition is something to admire.

The text itself is pitched well for a young audience and Wu's lovely, colourful spreads present a sense of time and mood within a warm atmosphere. A lovely addition to any home or classroom and although especially inspiring for girls it is also inspiring for all who seek to succeed through their own drive and determination.
Profile Image for Oona.
209 reviews
May 27, 2017
Detailed illustrations, accessible text, and fantastic for teaching grit and growth mindset. The illustrations, combined with visually appealing "quotables," make this one a picture book to linger on and re-read. I love how the timeline in the back is color coded to differentiate between world events and the events in Hopper's life, and the bibliography and additional reading will help to populate the read-next list. One other detail (or should I say lack thereof) which I admire is that while Grace's wedding to Vincent Hopper is on the timeline, it is not a detail that's relevant to the story, per se. You could use this text as a mentor text to show how to make research come alive for students.
Profile Image for Ann.
640 reviews14 followers
December 27, 2017
There were a couple unnecessary put-downs of the 'traditional girl' (e.g. -- "While her schoolmates wore frilly dresses and learned to be young ladies, Grace studied math and science.") and the typeface for the main text wasn't integrated well with the illustrations, but the illustrations are gorgeous and the information presented is substantial without being at too high a reading level.
Profile Image for Nadine in NY Jones.
2,751 reviews217 followers
March 9, 2021
I read this to my teen daughters last night, and we enjoyed it. My younger daughter especially liked the part where child Grace took apart all the family clocks, because it reminded her of her!

I did not realize that the concept of subroutines was invented by Hopper! It's so integral to all computer programs nowadays, I can't imagine doing without!

And we learned the a "bug" in computer code was a term that originated with Hopper, too.

Other than that, this book didn't really teach me what Hopper worked on, but I guess that's what you get from a picture book!

One thing we didn't like: twice the book points out that Grace isn't like other girls, she was interested in math and science, while the other girls were wearing frilly dresses and interested in marriage and motherhood. That's a false dichotomy and I wish this wonderful picture book wasn't pushing a bias like that. Girls can wear frilly dresses AND love computer code AND be a mother AND be an engineer.
Profile Image for Melody Schwarting.
1,441 reviews82 followers
August 9, 2021
Grace Hopper is credited with the term "computer bug," originally referring to an actual bug in a Mark II, and if that doesn't tell you how foundational her contributions to coding are, I don't know what can. Hopper has a legacy stretching all the way to the National Museum of Computing near Bletchley Park in England, which is where I first heard about her. I loved how real quotes from Hopper were included in the text. She sounds like a quick wit.

My one quibble with this book is that it pits femininity against STEM: "While her schoolmates wore frilly dresses and learned to become young ladies, Grace studied math and science." All this on a spread showing how Grace builds an elevator for her dollhouse! Fortunately, the illustrations subvert this nonsense by showing Grace in frilly dresses, being a young lady, while doing math and science. Telling little girls they have to choose between girliness and intelligence is an outright lie and can be damaging. Instead, let's pull a collective Elle Woods and crush traditionally male tasks while being as feminine as we want, hmm?

Hopper's story is sure to awaken interest in computing among young readers. I had to ask my husband, a computer scientist, about a few things as I read. He daily benefits from strides Hopper made in coding. In a world that moves as fast as computer science, that means huge contributions.
Profile Image for Gary Anderson.
Author 0 books84 followers
October 18, 2017
Laurie Wallmark’s Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code portrays legendary computer programmer Grace Hopper as fun and feisty. More than anything, Wallmark’s picture book biography is an appealing story that will engage many young readers, not just the technology fans. The computer science and engineering are accessible and presented as challenges which “Amazing Grace” gladly tackles. The narrative has a friendly voice, and I also like the inspirational Grace Hopper quotes adorning many of the page spreads. Katy Wu’s bright, happy illustrations perfectly match the tone of Wallmark’s words. Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code is a book that readers will remember, re-visit, and talk about with each other.
Profile Image for Vic Levering.
18 reviews13 followers
April 2, 2021
I really like this one. It may be a bit difficult for picture book age, but hey, kids know a lot about computers and coding these days, so what do I know. "Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code" is great though because it reads as a story with interesting bits like the formation of the term "computer bug." Unlike Chelsea Clinton's book, this feels more like a storybook that any child would enjoy.
Profile Image for Kris.
2,938 reviews70 followers
February 24, 2021
Grace Hopper was a badass, and this picture book biography captures that. She was like, "Hey, let's make things easier for computer languages." "You can't do that. "Why not?" "Because no one ever has." "Oh yeah? Watch me." God, I love women who fight the status quo.
5,100 reviews71 followers
December 16, 2020
Motto: "The world will be a better place when all agree with me."

Computer stopped working - log "First actual case of [a computer] bug being found." - led to computer glitches being called "bugs."

"Unconventional thinking was often the key to solving problems."

Forced to retire at 60, after a few months asked to come back for a short assignment that lasted nearly 20 years. Retired as an Admiral.

Picture book biography of the Queen of Computer Code - Amazing Grace. Also includes a timeline at the end specifying that she was buried at Arlington with full military honors. Back inside cover also has a list of Grace's many honors. Cute poem on inside front.
Profile Image for Joan.
2,001 reviews
December 30, 2020
This was nice but just didn’t completely work for me. Other than the fact that she was stubborn and creative and a math whiz, I didn’t get a feeling of what she was like. I was fascinated by the clock she created to run backwards and about how computer bugs got their name (a real bug was the problem!) but I still didn’t get the feeling of her accomplishments. Just why was she well known? I think it was the programs she wrote to advance the use of machines by non tech people such as getting the machine to understand English. I’m assuming from the timeline that she often had simultaneous jobs in the military and in private companies which I didn’t think was allowed. This was a fine book but I’m looking forward to another, better one. Recommended.
Profile Image for Debrarian.
1,247 reviews
September 14, 2017
A nicely-paced picture book biography of groundbreaking computer programmer Grace Hopper (responsible for, among other things, teaching computers to recognize words and naming a computer glitch a "bug" - a great little anecdote that's included in the story).
Strengths include: Great front endpapers that both encapsulate and suck you right into the story with a snappy poem of Grace's attributes ("Rule breaker. Chance taker. Troublemaker...") and illustrations that show her growing up.
A well-judged combination of overall biographical information and specific anecdotes.
Lively illustrations that illuminate the text.
Personal quotes from Grace that give a flavor of her personality, included in the book at places where they don't repeat the text, but reinforce it.
A story that makes good on the promises made in the endpaper poem, showing us a smart, adventurous, humorous inventor mathematician who made a way for herself with determination.
The repeating gremlin character from her desk.
Embedded examples of how to solve problems: eg. looking at them from another angle; doodling to allow the brain to do its work.
Useful, readable timeline at the back.
Endpapers with more good info, including Selected Bibliography, Additional Reading About Other Women in STEM, and Grace's Many Honors.
Great book!

Profile Image for Susie.
1,620 reviews21 followers
January 5, 2018
I like the way this book details much of Grace Hopper's life without being too heavy on text; it is still enjoyable as a story. When using with students, I would give them an idea of the time period, rather than waiting until the end to find out. They might also need a little help realizing that Vassar courses such as "Husbands and WIves" and "Motherhood" were tongue in cheek names.
411 reviews3 followers
March 21, 2019
Challenge-driven, Grace grew up having math and science as her favorite subjects. Exploring the world around her with great curiosity and problem-solving abilities, she created computer codes and she also coined the word "bug" to describe any computer glitches. This is a great book to read with all children, particularly girls, who should be more encouraged to show interests in math and science. "Unconventional thinking was often the key to solving problems."
11 reviews1 follower
September 30, 2022
A brilliant book for any young STEM enthusiast. I loved reading about Grace’s incredible achievements. The clever use of quotes and anecdotes, as well as the timeline of her life, helped me feel connected to Grace and want to know more about her.
Profile Image for Ruth.
1,410 reviews35 followers
July 21, 2017
Ben is now fascinated by Grace Hopper because of this book. We reviewed binary coding because of this story, and he loved hearing about how the term "bugs" was invented in relation to computer coding. I think this was especially true because his father codes software for a living, so this helped him understand what his dad does better. Great illustrations, use of quotes from her life, and a nice, in depth story that was still appropriate for kids.
Profile Image for Suki.
223 reviews19 followers
April 22, 2019
Such a good picture book! Particularly for the slightly older crowd (K is 9yo). We had some nice little conversations with my husband as well while I read it aloud.
Profile Image for Peacegal.
9,953 reviews91 followers
July 17, 2017
Fantastic book celebrates the life of this amazing lady. Grace Hopper was intelligent, dedicated, professional, hardworking, and childfree! What an incredible icon for those who aspire to pursue their dreams, and further proof that a woman doesn't have to have kids in order to leave a lasting legacy upon our world.
Profile Image for Tori Turner.
8 reviews18 followers
January 31, 2019
This book about Grace Hopper was a Biography. I loved this book especially because the illustrations were colorful and playful. Also, the book started off telling about Grace when she was a child, therefore, it gives children a character to relate to, she was not some idol on a bookshelf that no one can understand. It tells about her curiosity and passion to find answers and continue her education. I feel this biography can be a great inspiration to young readers everywhere.
In my classroom, I would probably read this to 3-4 Graders. There is not a lot of writing but it is a longer picture book. (I think 5th graders might even enjoy it because the illustrations are so cool!)

One of the NC English/Language Arts standards is CCR Anchor Standard RL.3 –Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. So for one activity, I would use this book as a read aloud to the class and then have my students create character charts highlighting events that happened, how she reacted, how she changed over the story, how her accomplishments affected technology today, and any other things they thought were important from the story.

Another Activity from this book would be to read another Biography with a strong female lead and have students compare and contrast their lives, accomplishments, and then write a reflection on how they developed as characters over the course of the text.

Profile Image for Kellee Moye.
2,452 reviews416 followers
July 2, 2017
Full review with teaching tools: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=1...

Each time I learn about a new woman in history that made such a tremendous contribution yet is a name I didn’t know, I am flabbergasted by the lack HERstory in HIStory. Grace Hopper is a phenomenal individual! I love how much her story promotes imagination and STEM. Her stories of rebuilding clocks and building a doll house from blueprints with an elevator shows how building a strong mathematical and scientific mind begins from youth, and it is all about teaching kids to mess around, use their imagination, tinker, and learn through trying. Wallmark’s biography of Grace Hopper does a beautiful job of combining a message of rebellion (in the name of science), creativity, imagination, and education with Grace’s biography. In addition to the narrative, Wu’s illustrations and formatting of the novel adds humanity and color to her story.
3,758 reviews19 followers
July 1, 2017
How do you write a picture book biography about a woman pioneer in a complicated job whose contributions may be hard even for adults to fully understand? Laurie Wallmark has figured that daunting task out wonderfully. What she does is give young readers a real sense of Hopper's personality and the traits that made her excel. Her achievements are stated simply but even if kids are vague on things like coding and programming, they will understand that Hopper made important contributions in the computer field.

Stories about the first computer bug, Hopper's fondness for practical jokes and taking clocks apart bring her spirit to lively life for kids. Katie Wu's digital illustrations are lively and nicely reflect the breezy tone of the text. A charming and entertaining story about a truly admirable woman.

I'm so glad to see this biography of Hopper for kids and equally glad that Wallmark did such a great job of introducing Amazing Grace to a generation of kids. Excellent back matter too.

Profile Image for Paula.
Author 2 books215 followers
May 16, 2017
This is how you do it. No mention of burning the steak or neglecting her children - in fact we never even learn she was married until the timeline in the back. Instead, we learn about Grace's accomplishments: joining the Navy at age 36, inventing modular coding, developing FLOW-MATIC (the basis for COBOL).

And with peppy, punchy art that mimics Grace's crisp but humorous demeanor ("Faithfulness in all things my motto is you see: The world will be a better place when all agree with me.").
Displaying 1 - 30 of 224 reviews

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