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Summary: As Lieutenant Colonel Eileen Collins prepared for launch, she drew on history. She might be the first woman to command a space shuttle, but there were 13 women who came before her who trained but never made it to space. In July 1999, eight of the surviving 11 gathered to watch LTC Collins head to space. LTC Collins insisted on it! This is an illustrated history of the space program that includes historical data, interviews, and lots of great photos.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book, illustrated chapter
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 10; read yourself: 10 and up
Interest Level: 9 and up
Reading Level: 6
Age of Child: Read with an almost-9-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: Reactions teetered between "that's cool" and "that's not fair." They went back and forth quite often in the first part of the book. When we got about three chapters in, my daughter was more interested in looking at the pictures (especially Chapter 12) than listening to what we had to say.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is fascinating ... verging on riveting. The pictures MAKE you want to read the text. The quotes from Jerri Truhill keep you focused on the point of the book: progress can move one step forward two steps back AND two steps forward and one step back ... and sometimes its hard to tell the difference. My only disappointment is the cultural references. Where the history itself is valuable and timeless, the references to Murphy Brown and Cagney and Lacey seem trite.
Pros: Great "untold" stories and incredible photography offer readers and researchers a well-told history of the role of women in the US Space Program.
Cons: Although my 9-year-old is in the target audience, it is probably for older children. Many of the pop culture references in the book will be lost on them, though.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a phenomenal book, but one you're likely to read in pieces, not cover to cover. It is a must-have for school and public libraries.
Educational Themes: With mid-elementary audiences you can explore the history through the pictures and some of the text. There are also free educational materials available on the author's website. This is a good choice for history, space history, and women's history.
Notes: Awards: Robert F. Sibert, Jane Addams Honor Book Award This is from the reviewer's personal library. There is no expectation of a review.