ALMOST ASTRONAUTS

13 WOMEN WHO DARED TO DREAM

The fascinating, dramatic story of the “Mercury 13,” a group of women aviators who proved to be as courageous, intelligent and fit as any man, but who were nonetheless barred from NASA’s astronaut program because of their gender. At the center of the story is Jerrie Cobb, a veteran pilot who successfully completed every test given to male astronauts. Her performance, and that of the others, proved women had the “right stuff,” but these findings were not enough to overcome the prevailing prejudices of the time. It took 20 years before NASA admitted women into the astronaut program. Stone poignantly chronicles how the efforts of Cobb and her colleagues were ridiculed and thwarted by everyone from Vice-President Lyndon Johnson to Mercury astronauts Scott Carpenter and John Glenn and—in a bitter irony—Jackie Cochran, a highly respected, trailblazing female pilot, who appeared to be motivated by jealousy and spite. The author offers great insight into how deeply ingrained sexism was in American society and its institutions. Handsomely illustrated with photographs, this empowering story will leave readers inspired. (foreword, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3611-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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SCAT

During a field trip to Black Vine Swamp, a suspicious “wildfire” breaks out, and much-feared and -reviled science teacher Mrs. Starch vanishes. The school gets a letter stating she is away on a “family emergency,” but no one believes that. Nick Waters and his friend Marta Gonzales are sure bad-boy Duane “Smoke” Scrod, Jr., is to blame for both fire and disappearance. However, there’s more to Duane, Mrs. Starch and the fire than Nick or Marta could ever imagine. This is Hiaasen Country, so the complications include a rare Florida panther, a crooked oil company, a tree-hugging Hayduke of a millionaire and a couple of well-meaning-but-not-as-swift-as-the-kids detectives. Hiaasen’s third outing for young readers might be a little slow in pacing and the character types might be recognizable to experienced readers, but fans of Hoot and Flush (2002, 2005) will not be disappointed by this funny, believable, environmentally friendly tween thriller. (Thriller. 10-15)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-83486-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2008

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