Monday, November 29, 2021



Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer
Written by Traci Sorell (Cherokee)
Illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Métis)
Published by Millbrook Press
Published in 2021
Reviewer: Debbie Reese
Review Status: Highly Recommended


Sorell's Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer is receiving starred reviews from the major children's literature review journals. And, I'll add, with good reason! Sorell is Cherokee. The book, focusing on a Cherokee aerospace engineer, is tribally specific. And people interested in STEM will love what they'll find in this picture book. You can read it aloud, and you can watch the video format where DeLanna Studi provides the narration. Like Sorell, she is Cherokee. 

Back when I was a kid, I liked biographies and I would have liked this biography of Mary Golda Ross. Some things beckon to me in a personal sense. She worked at Santa Fe Indian School as a girls advisor. My parents and grandparents went there, and I taught there for awhile. I didn't know about her, then. From what I can tell, she worked at SFIS after my grandmother was there, and before my parents attended the school. The timeline in the back of the book says she was there to advise female students. These advisors played significant roles! I remember both my parents talking fondly about their advisors.  

The word "classified" is part of the title because Ross was part of the Skunk Works division, which was a top-secret group working on planes that could fly beyond Earth. Hence, "aerospace" is also part of the title. One page of the book says that "She designed concepts for space travel to Venus and Mars" and her work helped send astronauts to the moon! That is, to use a Cherokee word, osdadv! 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her, and studying the illustrations Natasha Donovan did for the book. Teachers will love all the materials Sorell has on her webpage for the book. Scroll down to find the Teaching Guide, a Resource Toolkit, and a classroom poster. Scroll down even further to find audio files for Cherokee words. 

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