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Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer,  written by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Natasha Donovan, is a treasure!  My fourth graders are HUGE Traci Sorell fans and they were so excited when this book arrived in our classroom. The story of Mary Golda Ross is one that will resonate with all students and inspire many to pursue their dreams.  As a Cherokee Nation citizen, Sorrel brings a personal touch to this picture book including a note on Cherokee values at the beginning that guides the reader through the story.  The timeline, with photos, and author’s note at the end provide students with the next steps in their quest to learn more about Mary Golda Ross.  The book is beautifully illustrated  by Natasha Donovan, who is Métis, and shows a depth of understanding about Mary Golda Ross and what life must have looked like through her eyes. The students loved reading the illustrations and drawing conclusions about her feelings at various points in her life based on her experiences at the time.  Yes, we read like writers but we read like illustrators too!

What students had to say:

  • I like that she didn’t care what other people thought and this makes me want to learn more, especially math!
  • How was she able to do all of that?
  • I think that Mary not only was an inspiration to women but for men also.  I would tell her that she is a BIG inspiration.
  • This story makes me want to study space!
  • I would ask her what she thought when she found out that men had landed on the moon and I would tell her that we just landed on Mars.
  • She makes me want to be an engineer.  
  • This book makes me think about how unfair it was for the men to do everything, women can do things too!
  • I really want to be smart in math like Mary Golda Ross.
  • I like the way she loved math, that’s cool.
  • I think it is awesome that she lived to be almost one hundred years old.
  • I would tell Traci Sorell that I LOVE HER BOOKS!

I have been cultivating a collection of books about indigenous people by #OwnVoice authors for a few years and this book is a wonderful addition to the collection.  Recently, there have been several opportunities to learn more about native voices in children’s literature. When I opened my copy of Classified, there was a Classified Golden Ticket inside! It was like I was a real life character in the film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I was lucky enough to be a part of a give away with this book, as sponsored by Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore in Minneapolis.  They have a wonderful collection of children’s books with an emphasis on Native American titles. As part of the giveaway,  I received some really cool swag! In particular, I received a $1.00 coin, crafted by the US Mint in 2019 to commemorate Mary Ross’s work in the US Space Program. Wado, Traci Sorell and Birchbark Books!  The students loved the bookmarks and now I have signed bookplates for all of my Traci Sorell books!  #Fangirling

Our Traci Sorell collection is growing and Classified, The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer arrived in Room 23 in March.  I can’t wait to share, We Are Still Here, Native American Truths Everyone Should Know, the newest book by Traci Sorell, which is arriving in April. Students will be so excited to hear the latest story from one of their favorite authors.  Then, I will share it with all of you!

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