Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross

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Modern Age

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross
Author: Sorell, Traci
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1925-2008
Geographic Area: North America
Country: United States
Topics: WWII, Cherokee Nation, Indigenous Americans, Space Race, Women in Science
Genre: Non Fiction
Reading Age: Lower Elementary, Middle Grade
Format: Picture Book
Published: 2021

American History > Modern Age > Indigenous American History > Women in Science

Discover the story of how a math-loving girl blazed a trail for herself and others in this American Indian Library Association Youth Literature Award Honor Picture Book, Classified: Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, a biography for children ages 7 – 11

Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecraft as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation's first female engineer. Find out how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.

Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan trace Ross's journey from being the only girl in a high school math class to becoming a teacher to pursuing an engineering degree, joining the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed, and being a mentor for Native Americans and young women interested in engineering. In addition, the narrative highlights Cherokee values including education, working cooperatively, remaining humble, and helping ensure equal opportunity and education for all.

"A stellar addition to the genre that will launch careers and inspire for generations, it deserves space alongside stories of other world leaders and innovators."—starred, Kirkus Reviews

Emily's Review

I am always looking for picture books about interesting people, and while this book is a short biography, I think it was really well done.

In this book, we meet Mary Golda Ross, the first Native American and female engineer at Lockheed Martin. We see through her story that she was dedicated to her Cherokee values throughout her life and career. She was instrumental not only in working on aircraft during WWII, but in the space race and other important projects. Much of her work is still classified, hence the title of the book.

Ross' life and achievements are inspiring, and I especially appreciate the focus put on girls in mathematics. I also really enjoyed the emphasis put on her Cherokee values. My only negative on this book is that it reads more like a list of what she did rather than a story. Because of that, I think this book might be hard for a child to latch onto. I think the illustrations are beautiful though, and really add to the story.

Overall, I definitely think this book is worth checking out if you want to learn more about women, particularly Indigenous women, in STEM!

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