If you’re not already familiar with Emily Calandrelli – first of all, what rock are you hiding under? – but let this be your introduction. She’s the host of Fox’s Xploration Outer Space, has given a couple TED talks, is one of the science correspondents for the Netflix show Bill Nye Saves the World, is science host for Discovery News, and covers the space industry for Techcrunch. Yeah, she knows her stuff.
And we also chatted with her over on The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, so you might want to check that out.
Calandrelli has taken a Master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics (from MIT, no less) and a gift for communication and used them to her advantage in the public sphere – an arena that was, quite frankly, previously only occupied by a couple guys named Nye and Tyson.
And if that brief rundown of her resume highlights isn’t impressive enough, she’s now added author to that list of accomplishments. Say hello to Ada Lace.
Calandrelli’s Ada Lace books are a brand-new children’s book series about an 8-year-old 3rd grader with a knack for science and math and for solving mysteries with technology. The first book in the series, Ada Lace, on the Case, is a bit of a mash-up between Nancy Drew and Rear Window…with a dash of robotics and spy gadgetry thrown in for good measure.
Ada is a the new girl in the neighborhood, and if that weren’t awkward enough, she also has a broken ankle. She quickly meets Nina, though, who couldn’t be more of a polar opposite if she tried. Where Ada is meticulous, scientific, and detail oriented, Nina is quirky, carefree, and spontaneous. Because of the broken ankle, Ada spends an inordinate amount of time looking out her window onto the apartment complex. Soon enough, a mystery (a missing dog) presents itself, and Ada and Nina work together to solve the case – diving into drones, the ecosystem, wireless cameras, gecko gloves, and the Turing test along the way.
Ada Lace Sees Red takes Ada’s scientific curiosity into the classroom. Even though her dad’s the art teacher, she’s still having difficulty with her assignments in art class. If she can build a working robot that’s the envy of the neighborhood, why can’t she paint a simple picture? Especially since her friend Nina seems to be the teacher’s pet and can do no wrong.
The books are accented with black-and-white illustrations throughout, and each has a “Behind the Science” section at the end that helps young readers learn a bit more about the real-life scientific concepts included in the book.
The Ada Lace books are highly recommended for any young reader, from about 2nd through 5th grade. Calandrelli deftly weaves the science into the story without bonk-bonk hitting you over the head with it. Kids will be so engaged in and entertained by the stories to realize that they’re actually learning something – until they put the book down and discover that their imaginations have been piqued and their scientific curiosity is running wild.
My daughter (8, the same as Ada) loves them, and we can’t wait for the next book in the series.