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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Erma Tynes Walker faced many obstacles throughout her life due to the color of her skin. That didn’t stop her from using her abilities in math, physics, and astronomy. She worked at the Langley Jet Propulsion Lab from 1943 to 1980. She was part of the human computer program, a highly trained data analyst. But that’s history. What really made Erma so special was her family. When Tameka visits Aunt Erma with a birthday gift, the young girl ends up answering multiple math questions. At first, she balks at the math lesson, but then she starts to enjoy playing along with the math games as she learns more about Aunt Erma’s work with early computers.
Ann Strawn’s story, Erma Does the Math, is a clever look at the world around us and how math is everywhere. The story is a fitting tribute to the author’s Aunt Erma, but it also emphasizes the importance of family and how a family encourages and enriches education. A special visit with a special aunt turns into a math lesson and then into a game full of math and stories. Young Tameka has a lot to learn, but she loves being with her aunt and learning from her. After answering multiple math questions, Tameka finally convinces her aunt to take a break and open the special birthday gift she brought. With a short biography of Erma Tynes Walker at the end, an author’s note, and some study questions, this makes a great learning book for young readers.