An astronaut’s story, from early adventures with his twin brother (who also became an astronaut) to record-breaking feats in space.
Though in most respects typical of astronaut profiles for younger readers, this one features unusually personal notes—a nod to his “girlfriend,” Amiko, and early childhood memories of hiding in the bedroom with his brother when their parents fought—and also vivid writing. Kelly describes re-entry as “like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel—but while you’re on fire!” In a personable voice he highlights major youthful experiences, then goes on to give quicker accounts of his training and career, which began with a life-changing reading of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (1979) and culminated in four missions capped by a year spent in orbit to track long-term physical changes, with his brother back on Earth serving as control. (Kelly will doubtless cover all of this in greater detail in his memoir for adult readers, scheduled for publication at the same time.) In an ill-judged attempt to fill in gaps, the illustrations, most of which are a mix of family snapshots and official NASA photos, alternate with or are superimposed on very simply drawn cartoon portraits or frames. The Kelly family is white; some astronauts and other figures in both the photos and in Ceolin’s scenes are dark-skinned.
The pictures are a patchwork, but the authorial voice is distinct and the story has its unique aspects. (Picture book/autobiography. 7-9)