CLASSIFIED: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer (Cybils Nominee)

It’s easy to see why CLASSIFIED: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer , (by Native American author Traci Sorell and Metis illustrator Natasha Donovan) was nominated for this year’s Cybils. This picture book, suitable for kids 7-11*, tells the story of the first Native American female engineer**.

A book review is not a place for a political tirade, but… given the popularity of important movies and books like Hidden Figures; as well as the USA’s half-millenium-overdue racial reconing, it was about time we got a book like CLASSIFIED.

Mary Golda Ross (1908-2008) worked at Lockheed (as in before the merger with Martin) during World War 2 and later on the much-fabled Skunk Works. Ross’s work led to the invention of the space shuttle and Armstrong’s walk on the moon; and most of the work she did is still classified.

Ross was a technological powerhouse; but CLASSIFIED makes it clear her true legacy is her love for her fellow humans; passion for building up those around her, and her work to pave the way for other women in STEM – I’m one myself. đŸ™‚


Sorell makes it clear that Ross’s character, informed by the Cherokee values instilled by her family, were the foundation of her success. That message, gently repeated through the text, is an important window/sliding glass door, as well as character education for readers of all ages.

I believe that’s Cherokee alphabet above the text? When your brain works differently, sometimes digital media doesn’t quite deliver.

Natasha Donovan’s illustrations are gorgeous. *Mic drop*.


Ross was the great-granddaughter of a Cherokee chief; as such she was allowed to be raised by her family and educated in Cherokee schools. Of course, had she been kidnapped to one of the USA’s “Indian Boarding Schools” (too common for most of the 21st century) her intellectual gifts would never have been nurtured.

As the mom of biracial children, I aggressively seek out “books about marginalized people who succeed despite the bigotry against them, that only briefly address racism”*** but was surprised to find racism not addressed at all. However, there are mentions of sexism against Ross – including a rather funny/sad picture of boys in her 1920’s high school math class refusing to sit next to her.


Get a copy for your home library, and for your kids’ classroom libraries.

*Says Amazon.

**Note to anyone nominating: I’m also here for a book about the WW2 Navajo CodeTalkers, as long as there is no Nicholas Cage.

***This would be a section at a bookstore if I ever owned one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.