INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED has received a STARRED review from Booklist.
“As WWII loomed, technology advanced, with machinery evolving to keep up with a world that was moving at a faster pace. At the University of Pennsylvania, female mathematicians, called “computers,” solved calculations that would help with the mechanics of the war effort. For three women, the stakes were even higher. Betty Snyder, Jean Jennings, and Kay McNulty, mathematicians and engineers equipped with particular skills, were tasked with programming ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), one of the first computers; if successful, they would create a machine to increase efficiency and “show that computers have a future in war and in peace.” Through much trial and error they accomplished their task, though they received little celebration or even recognition at the time. “To solve the biggest problems,” the text asserts, “computer memory has to be elegantly organized.” Here, complicated concepts are clarified with poetic grace. The window into this early phase of computer science is the women who pioneered it; Betty, Jean, and Kay are made distinct in their backgrounds, personalities, and specialities through both the rhythmic text and the retro pastel art. Beck implements a separate, subtle color scheme for each woman, and those threads are stitched throughout the book; a final spread, set in the modern day, highlights the lasting echoes of their work. Thorough backmatter completes this essential ode to women in STEAM.”