The Girl With a Mind For Math

The Story of Raye Montague

Written by Julia Finley Mosca, Illustrated by Daniel Rieley

Raye Montague is in the same category as other African-American women who are the “Hidden Figures” of the 20th century. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1935, she was the first person to figure out how to design a naval ship using a computer. She always wanted to be an engineer, but was turned down when she applied to college. Instead, she graduated from technical school and took a job with the Navy as a typist. She watched and learned every task she could, studying computers in a night class. Her big break came in 1971 when the whole staff got the flu – Raye did all of her work, plus all of the engineers’ work too! While her supervisor was hesitant to recognize her, he realized she was the only person who could come up with a system on the computer to design a ship in less than 2 months. But Raye surprised him even more when she finished the job in just over 18 hours! Raye went on to become a licensed engineer in 1978 and in 1984 became the Navy’s first female program manager of ships.

There’s a lot of information in this book, but it’s told in poetry form and is easily digestible. The illustrations are well done and cater to a young audience. It’s hard to beat the amazing story of Raye’s grit and determination – she deserves to be known. There’s a helpful timeline at the back and a “Facts and Tidbits” section from the Author’s chat with Raye before she died in 2018. This would make an excellent book to feature during Women’s history month, women in STEM careers, African-American history month, etc.

Reviewed by Andrea LeBaron, Media Clerk, Upland Terrace Elementary
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades K-5

View sample spreads from this book

The Girl With a Mind For Math
Written by Julia Finley Mosca, Illustrated by Daniel Rieley
The Innovation Press
Release Date: September 4, 2018
ISBN: 9781943147427

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