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Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer

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Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was the daughter of Lord Byron, a poet, and Anna Isabella Milbanke, a mathematician. Her parents separated when she was young, and her mother insisted on a logic-focused education, rejecting Byron’s “mad” love of poetry. But Ada remained fascinated with her father and considered mathematics “poetical science.” Via her friendship with inventor Charl Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was the daughter of Lord Byron, a poet, and Anna Isabella Milbanke, a mathematician. Her parents separated when she was young, and her mother insisted on a logic-focused education, rejecting Byron’s “mad” love of poetry. But Ada remained fascinated with her father and considered mathematics “poetical science.” Via her friendship with inventor Charles Babbage, she became involved in “programming” his Analytical Engine, a precursor to the computer, thus becoming the world’s first computer programmer. This picture book biography of Ada Lovelace is a portrait of a woman who saw the potential for numbers to make art.


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Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was the daughter of Lord Byron, a poet, and Anna Isabella Milbanke, a mathematician. Her parents separated when she was young, and her mother insisted on a logic-focused education, rejecting Byron’s “mad” love of poetry. But Ada remained fascinated with her father and considered mathematics “poetical science.” Via her friendship with inventor Charl Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was the daughter of Lord Byron, a poet, and Anna Isabella Milbanke, a mathematician. Her parents separated when she was young, and her mother insisted on a logic-focused education, rejecting Byron’s “mad” love of poetry. But Ada remained fascinated with her father and considered mathematics “poetical science.” Via her friendship with inventor Charles Babbage, she became involved in “programming” his Analytical Engine, a precursor to the computer, thus becoming the world’s first computer programmer. This picture book biography of Ada Lovelace is a portrait of a woman who saw the potential for numbers to make art.

30 review for Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    This is a good overview of Ada Lovelace and her work with Charlse Babbage. The illustrations were good and portrayed the events in an imaginative way. I think a fact page or timeline of Adam's life would have been a nice addition at the end pages, and perhaps a glossary and a portrait of Ada from her lifetime. This is a good overview of Ada Lovelace and her work with Charlse Babbage. The illustrations were good and portrayed the events in an imaginative way. I think a fact page or timeline of Adam's life would have been a nice addition at the end pages, and perhaps a glossary and a portrait of Ada from her lifetime.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Krista the Krazy Kataloguer

    What I found particularly interesting about Ada is that she turned out to be a dreamy, imaginative, inventive sort of girl, taking after her famous father, the poet Lord Byron, despite her mother's encouraging her to study math, which was supposed to ground her. Instead, she applied her imagination to math to become a pioneer in what would become computer science. Amazing! I also found it interesting that her husband allowed her to work with Charles Babbage on his "analytical engine," the foreru What I found particularly interesting about Ada is that she turned out to be a dreamy, imaginative, inventive sort of girl, taking after her famous father, the poet Lord Byron, despite her mother's encouraging her to study math, which was supposed to ground her. Instead, she applied her imagination to math to become a pioneer in what would become computer science. Amazing! I also found it interesting that her husband allowed her to work with Charles Babbage on his "analytical engine," the forerunner of the computer. Women at that time were not encouraged to participate in science, which was considered a man's world. He must have appreciated her genius. The author, Fiona Robinson, did a beautiful job of explaining how Jacquard's loom, which operated by punch cards, provided the inspiration to Ada for computer programming. She was good at thinking outside the box! I must read more about her. I just wish the book would have included a portrait of the real Ada, if one exists. Fascinating woman. Recommended!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jenhfor

    This children’s biography tells the story of Ada Lovelace, the woman who, according to the book, “is widely considered the world’s first computer programmer,” making this a good biography title to support the study of women’s contributions to STEM. The biography gives a quick overview of the short life of Ada who lived 1815-1852, dying at the early age of 36. Ada, daughter of poet Lord Bryon and mathematician Anna Isabella Milbanke, grew up to see the poetry in numbers. As a child her mother mad This children’s biography tells the story of Ada Lovelace, the woman who, according to the book, “is widely considered the world’s first computer programmer,” making this a good biography title to support the study of women’s contributions to STEM. The biography gives a quick overview of the short life of Ada who lived 1815-1852, dying at the early age of 36. Ada, daughter of poet Lord Bryon and mathematician Anna Isabella Milbanke, grew up to see the poetry in numbers. As a child her mother made her study relentlessly and when she turned sixteen, she was introduced to some of the brightest minds of the time. She began a friendship with Charles Babbage, who introduced her to his “Analytical Engine,” an invention that was a precursor to what would become the modern-day computer. As Ada helped Babbage create the punch cards to feed the machine to know its commands, she was able to see math artistically and apply that skill to create new patterns for the machine to follow, unknowingly becoming the first computer programmer. While the biography appears accurate and authentic, it is limited in content. With the exception of her work with Babbage and her work with Jacquard’s loom punched paper patterns that inspired Ada, little is told of her adult life or her early death. The content of the biography, while a fairly simplistic overview of her life is a little dense and dry for children and includes some complicated information, like Bernoulli numbers, that seems unnecessary to the story. Told from the third person point of view, the word choices, despite the somewhat dry material, create a lyrical story making for an interesting read aloud. The best part of the book are the illustrations. Robinson created beautiful rendered watercolors which she then cut out and assembled at different depths to create a 3-D effect for the final artwork. The images were then photographed and used as full page illustrations with the text overlaid. The images add to the story conveying the creativity and artistry of Ada Lovelace herself. Ages: 5-9

  4. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Tanner

    This lovely little picture book tells the story of Ada Lovelace, who was the daughter of Lord Byron (the poet), and Anne Millbanke (the mathematician). Ada lived in 19th century England and was expected to marry well and have children. Ada did that but she also was intrigued by math and worked with Charles Babbage, another mathematician and inventor, who was working on a project called the Analytical Engine. It was an early forerunner of the calculator or the computer and Ada helped to create so This lovely little picture book tells the story of Ada Lovelace, who was the daughter of Lord Byron (the poet), and Anne Millbanke (the mathematician). Ada lived in 19th century England and was expected to marry well and have children. Ada did that but she also was intrigued by math and worked with Charles Babbage, another mathematician and inventor, who was working on a project called the Analytical Engine. It was an early forerunner of the calculator or the computer and Ada helped to create some of the punch cards (which were the programming) for it. This will be a nice addition to our biography section.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    I really liked this picture book bio of Ada Lovelace. I could use this easily with intermediate students to discuss computers, the role of gender, the Industrial Revolution. It also makes a great mentor text for writing biographies. Pair it with Manfish ( a bio of Jacques Cousteau) or with the historical fiction series The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Becky B

    A picture book biography of Ada Lovelace, the daughter of poet Lord Byron and mathematician Anne Milbanke. To try and save her from becoming anything like her father, Ada's mother surrounded her with structure and math and tried to keep her from anything poetic. That didn't stop Ada from developing a poetic mathematical mind, and writing a complicated and highly imaginative algorithm for inventor Charles Babbage's theoretical calculating machine. Babbage's machine was never built, but today, wha A picture book biography of Ada Lovelace, the daughter of poet Lord Byron and mathematician Anne Milbanke. To try and save her from becoming anything like her father, Ada's mother surrounded her with structure and math and tried to keep her from anything poetic. That didn't stop Ada from developing a poetic mathematical mind, and writing a complicated and highly imaginative algorithm for inventor Charles Babbage's theoretical calculating machine. Babbage's machine was never built, but today, what Ada wrote is considered the first computer program. This is a great introduction to Ada Lovelace. She seems like such a fascinating person, I think I want to hunt down a longer biography on her. (I may check out one of the ones in the bibliography in the back of this book.) Robinson manages to convey that Ada's father was a rogue without going into any details so it stays kid safe. She also manages to make math sound fun and amazing. I also really liked the art style chosen. An all-around great picture book biography about a female mathematical mind who was a century ahead of her time.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Clay

    The story of Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, the world's first computer programmer. That's right, the first coder was a WOMAN. Great life story with cleverly cut out and mounted watercolor illustrations (then photographed) which gives them nice depth. The story of Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, the world's first computer programmer. That's right, the first coder was a WOMAN. Great life story with cleverly cut out and mounted watercolor illustrations (then photographed) which gives them nice depth.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    Good introduction to Ada Lovelace for younger readers. See also Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Roberts

    Interesting narrative with cool cut-paper illustrations. Detailed and flowing text. Focuses on combination of mathematics and imagination. Inspiring, especially for little girls. STEAM-worthy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    This book was slightly shorter and simpler than Ada Lovelace: The Poet of Science. However, I much preferred the cut-paper and watercolor illustrations glued together to create a 3-D effect in this book. This one mentions her writing, but does not go into great detail. This book was slightly shorter and simpler than Ada Lovelace: The Poet of Science. However, I much preferred the cut-paper and watercolor illustrations glued together to create a 3-D effect in this book. This one mentions her writing, but does not go into great detail.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Conty

    I read this as an audiobook and am so confused by it. The production suggests that this is a children’s book, but the vocabulary definitely is not. Plus, the narrator sounds extremely pompous and the voice for Ada sounded like a child, even when Ada was in her 30s. Good information, crap audiobook.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kellee Moye

    Teaching guide for Ada's Ideas including discussion questions and activities: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=1... Teaching guide for Ada's Ideas including discussion questions and activities: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=1...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rhea

    I love how many picture books there are about Ada Lovelace these days. She has such a wonderful story. The art in this was gorgeous, with paper cutouts to give the artwork a 3D feel.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Young readers will be surprised to learn that the first computer programmer was a woman who lived during the nineteenth century. This beautifully-illustrated and well-designed picture book highlights the life of Ada Lovelace, the daughter of poet Lord Byron and mathematician Anne Isabella Milbanke. Although Ada's mother left her husband because of her concerns over his unpredictable behavior and her daughter never saw Lord Byron again, his genes must have influenced her in some way. After all, A Young readers will be surprised to learn that the first computer programmer was a woman who lived during the nineteenth century. This beautifully-illustrated and well-designed picture book highlights the life of Ada Lovelace, the daughter of poet Lord Byron and mathematician Anne Isabella Milbanke. Although Ada's mother left her husband because of her concerns over his unpredictable behavior and her daughter never saw Lord Byron again, his genes must have influenced her in some way. After all, Ada grew up with a thorough education and a vivid imagination, even dreaming of creating a mechanical horse that could fly. When she met mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage, she fell in love--not with the man but with his ideas. Babbage had an idea for a Difference Engine that would never make mathematical mistakes and an Analytical Engine, the world's first computer design. Ada used her math skills and knowledge to come up with a way to program the machine with Bernoulli numbers while dreaming of how the Analytical Engine could be programmed for artistic expression. Although the Analytical Engine never came to be because of projected costs, a century later inventors realized just how far ahead of their time Babbage and Lovelace were. For those who continue to think computer programming or invention are the purview of males or those who worry that their own ideas are far too outlandish, this picture book provides a terrific example of one woman who refused to be bound by the expectations of society and let her imagination marry math and art. The illustrations were created with Japanese watercolors that were then cut out, put together and glued to create the 3-D effect so noticeable in the images. The artist's note says she used more than 500 X-ACTO blades in her work. Wow! That's a lot of cutting and a labor of love that has resulted in a book that just might inspire the next generation of inventors and thinkers sitting and dreaming in one of our classrooms today.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kend

    Having just reviewed Diane Stanley's Ada Lovelace: The Poet of Science and with Laurie Wallmark's Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine just over my reviewing horizon, I think it's safe to say that Fiona Robinson's picture book is my favorite of the bunch. While other illustrations may be lovely and sweet, Robinson's are whimsical and a little unusual, featuring both traditional media and a unique cut-out layering style that adds just that touch of extra pop which I love and requir Having just reviewed Diane Stanley's Ada Lovelace: The Poet of Science and with Laurie Wallmark's Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine just over my reviewing horizon, I think it's safe to say that Fiona Robinson's picture book is my favorite of the bunch. While other illustrations may be lovely and sweet, Robinson's are whimsical and a little unusual, featuring both traditional media and a unique cut-out layering style that adds just that touch of extra pop which I love and require in additions to our library collection. As with Stanley's book, Robinson's presented a bit of a challenge to us as librarians: do we locate this in Junior Nonfiction or in the Picture Book area? Given that this is told in the language of fairy tale ("Once there was a girl named Ada who dreamed of making a steam-powered flying horse.") and takes a slightly fictionalizing approach to her life (very slight) we opted to go with the latter location, as the children who are likely to appreciate its language level and illustration style the most skew a bit younger than those who plunder our J-NF category. Ultimately, my love for this book comes down to the fact that it embraces the art in science and the science in art—on every single level. It's a beautiful book, magnificently made and sweetly told. I'm in love.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    When you first learn about a person, a place, an animal or anything, really, which you find astonishing, you want to learn as much as you can. Now it's been brought to your attention you are more aware of information in a variety of sources. It seems as though this person, place, animal or topic is everywhere. How is it you never noticed it before now? This is what participation in the 2016 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge accomplishes each week. It introduces us to, many times, new subjects in When you first learn about a person, a place, an animal or anything, really, which you find astonishing, you want to learn as much as you can. Now it's been brought to your attention you are more aware of information in a variety of sources. It seems as though this person, place, animal or topic is everywhere. How is it you never noticed it before now? This is what participation in the 2016 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge accomplishes each week. It introduces us to, many times, new subjects in which we are unaware. It allows us to develop a greater appreciation for our world and its inhabitants, then and now. Augusta Ada Byron who married William King and later became known as the Countess of Lovelace was a woman far in advance of her time, a visionary. Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer (Abrams Books for Young Readers, August 2, 2016) written and illustrated by Fiona Robinson is as fascinating as the person whose life and work is portrayed within its pages. My full recommendation: http://librariansquest.blogspot.com/2...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jana

    This beautiful picture book biography tells the story of Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron (the poet) and Anne Milbanke (a mathematician). Because her mother didn't want her to grow up to be like her father, she insisted that Ada spend all of her time studying serious subjects, like math. Even though her creativity was discouraged, she still had a strong, imaginative streak. After she grew up, she spent time working with inventor Charles Babbage, who was trying to create a machine that wo This beautiful picture book biography tells the story of Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron (the poet) and Anne Milbanke (a mathematician). Because her mother didn't want her to grow up to be like her father, she insisted that Ada spend all of her time studying serious subjects, like math. Even though her creativity was discouraged, she still had a strong, imaginative streak. After she grew up, she spent time working with inventor Charles Babbage, who was trying to create a machine that would perform computations. Ada created the program that would've made it work. Stunning 3-D collage artwork makes this a gorgeous book to be inspire young, creative minds.

  18. 4 out of 5

    D'Iberville Library

    This is a beautiful story about Ada Lovelace, who is widely regarded as the first computer programmer despite the fact that she died 100 years before the first computers were built. This story follows Ada from birth through her life and acquaintances describing her deep interest in math and her creativity. This is a great story to share with the little ladies in your life to show them that STEM careers are not just for boys. Women can do anything they set their minds to - even if it takes 100 ye This is a beautiful story about Ada Lovelace, who is widely regarded as the first computer programmer despite the fact that she died 100 years before the first computers were built. This story follows Ada from birth through her life and acquaintances describing her deep interest in math and her creativity. This is a great story to share with the little ladies in your life to show them that STEM careers are not just for boys. Women can do anything they set their minds to - even if it takes 100 years for their contribution to be realized. Highly recommended!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Holly Mueller

    How interesting! Ada Lovelace is considered the world's first computer programmer even though she sadly died at a young age and her algorithm for an invention called the Analytical Engine was never actually used at the time - it took another 100 years for the first working computers to be created. However, her story is fascinating. The artwork in this book is also fascinating - and unique. There's an "Artist's Note" in the back that explains how the illustrations were made. I'd love to have this How interesting! Ada Lovelace is considered the world's first computer programmer even though she sadly died at a young age and her algorithm for an invention called the Analytical Engine was never actually used at the time - it took another 100 years for the first working computers to be created. However, her story is fascinating. The artwork in this book is also fascinating - and unique. There's an "Artist's Note" in the back that explains how the illustrations were made. I'd love to have this book on hand in my classroom.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Awesome biography of an amazing woman that can be enjoyed by all ages of students. The artwork in this book is unique and very detailed. I like the angel the author takes that Ada Lovelace, considered the first computer programmer, was as much inspired by poetry and imagination as mathematics and engineering. it reinforces the idea that creativity is needed in all subjects.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Wonderful, informative book to add to any child's bookshelf, especially if that child is a girl! The illustrations are impressive, especially the front and back flaps that make a 2D page look 3D. As an educator who has worked in the field of computers and digital technology for over 30 years, I enjoyed seeing Ada's Ideas made available for kids. Wonderful, informative book to add to any child's bookshelf, especially if that child is a girl! The illustrations are impressive, especially the front and back flaps that make a 2D page look 3D. As an educator who has worked in the field of computers and digital technology for over 30 years, I enjoyed seeing Ada's Ideas made available for kids.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Incredible history—and that cover!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sam Bloom

    4.5 stars; the writing is some of the strongest I've seen in any picture bio this year. I'm not in love with the artwork, but it is definitely effective and creatively done. 4.5 stars; the writing is some of the strongest I've seen in any picture bio this year. I'm not in love with the artwork, but it is definitely effective and creatively done.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Wonderful picture book biography of the world's first computer programmer. Wonderful picture book biography of the world's first computer programmer.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Gray

    Not only did I really enjoy reading this biography, the illustrations were lots of fun to look at.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robin Raines-Bond

    Unique illustrations and a very interesting non-fiction story about Ada Lovelace, who had an amazing imagination and mathematical mind.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Fascinating that computer programming was invented in the 19th century by a woman. Great picture book; had to rate it down a star b/c of insufficient source matter.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maija

    Wonderfully detailed book with imaginative illustrations.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Lubow

    Ada’s Ideas document the early life and ideas that influenced to Ada Lovelace’s creation of an algorithm to program Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. This beautifully illustrated children’s book uses vivid and dimensional art to engage readers. The artist illustrated each of the page’s illustrations using watercolors and then cut out each of the images and using varying degrees of depth arranged the images and took photos of them, which leaves the reader with a sense of greater depth within e Ada’s Ideas document the early life and ideas that influenced to Ada Lovelace’s creation of an algorithm to program Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. This beautifully illustrated children’s book uses vivid and dimensional art to engage readers. The artist illustrated each of the page’s illustrations using watercolors and then cut out each of the images and using varying degrees of depth arranged the images and took photos of them, which leaves the reader with a sense of greater depth within each illustration. Robinson’s attention to detail is illustrated in the very first leaves of the book which feature photographs of layered punch cards connected to one another by string, emblematic of Babbage’s Analytical Engine and the early history of programming. Robinson’s prose favors alliteration and metaphor to engage readers and explain concepts to a younger audience. The layering of images and Lovelace’s ideas complement one another throughout this children’s book, as Lovelace’s ideas build upon one another, the images become more rich and detailed. This book successfully explains the idea of computer programming and the achievements of Ada Lovelace to a younger audience. This book would be best for elementary schoolers in at least 2nd grade, because the sentences and length of this book are fairly long. This book not only encourages women to involve themselves in STEM, but it also focuses on the inherent ingenuity and creativity that is necessary within programming. This would be a great book to read aloud at the end of a math class or beginning programming program. This book does not try to show the connection between mathematics or programming to other subjects, instead it seems to encourage young children to imagine the next frontier of programming, mathematics, and technology. This book does focus on the historical context and circumstances in which Lovelace grew up and in passing mentions her father Lord Byron and the author Charles Dickens, but neither of these figures is dwelt upon for very long, nor are they shown to have heavily influenced Ada’s formation of ideas. In fact, the author refers to the differences between mathematics and literature explicitly when she writes, “Poetry and parallelograms! Ada was born to parents who were very talented and very different.”

  30. 4 out of 5

    KidsBooksWorthReading

    Ada Lovelace was the daughter of the infamous poet Lord Byron and a wealthy and proper mathematician Anne Isabella Milbanke, both very talented and very different. Soon after Ada's birth her mother worried about be husband's wild ways and left him. Ada never saw her father again and poetry was not allowed. Ada was encouraged to study numbers from a very early age. She grew up during the industrial revolution. Buildings were filled with machines that engineers used math and science to invent. Tou Ada Lovelace was the daughter of the infamous poet Lord Byron and a wealthy and proper mathematician Anne Isabella Milbanke, both very talented and very different. Soon after Ada's birth her mother worried about be husband's wild ways and left him. Ada never saw her father again and poetry was not allowed. Ada was encouraged to study numbers from a very early age. She grew up during the industrial revolution. Buildings were filled with machines that engineers used math and science to invent. Touring the factories was a popular activity for the wealthy and Ada was fascinated by them. It sparked her imagination. She wanted to invent! Her first dream invention was a flying mechanical horse. She even studied the wings of a dead crow. The dream did not carry on. She got sick with the measles and could barely walk for three years. So, she focused on her studies. When she was seventeen she had recovered and was back into the social society and met an inventor Charles Babbage. He was the inventor of an enormous steam powered calculator called The Difference Engine and went on to work on the world's first computer design based on a silk jacquard loom that made complicated patterns. Ada thrilled by this new endeavor offered to figure out the algorithm that would "program" the new machine. She believed that its capability was far greater than just math. She believed it could be programmed to create pictures, music, and words, anything that could be expressed by a sequence. Just like computers are capable of today! It took another one hundred years after Ada's deaths for computers to be created. With her imagination and mathematical skill she saw a future no one else could envision. 🌅 We love this story of a imagination, math, and vision! #kidsbookworthreading #kidsbook #kidsbooks #kitlit #childrensbiographies #kidsbookstagram #childrensliterature #picturebooks #picturebook #adalovelace #computerprogramming #fionarobinson

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