by Sam Juliano
O, my luve’s like a red, red rose….. -Robert Burns, 1794
The final years of the Georgian Age brought great industrial and technological advancements to England, but the rapid and unregulated growth came at a price. Medical breakthroughs lagged fatally behind and social impoverishment was never so pronounced. As one of the world’s most celebrated authors was to pen in one of his most famous works during the upcoming reign of Queen Victoria, It was the best of times. It was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. The story of one of the era’s most underappreciated intellectual adventurers is one wrought in equal measure with sagacity and tribulation, revelation and dominion, and opulence and calamity. That it was played out in the household of one of the most revered literary figures in history isn’t at all especially surprising, though the machinations that paved the way for it and the hybrid flowering that set the stage make it one of the most remarkable accounts for those fascinated by the beginnings of a technology that now has become a dominating force in our daily life.
Three picture books on the same subject have appeared in the last few years, with two of those releasing in 2016. Ada Lovelace: Poet of Science beautifully written by Diane Stanley, with illustrations by Jessie Hartland first appeared months ago, and it was followed recently by Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer by Fiona Robinson. In just over twelve months ago Laurie Wallmark and the wonderful illustrator April Chu collaborated on Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. Ms. Robinson’s book is the only one of the three done by a single person and as such it is bolstered by a singular vision of how to connect the economically applied prose with the sumptuous art that places it squarely in the Caldecott equation. Robinson is a first-rate artist who for this book has created Japanese watercolor on Arches paper, then in an intricate process the paintings were cut out and glued to achieve depth and 3D before finally being photographed. (more…)