If fair play is important to you, reading Almost Astronauts will be a frustrating experience. Tanya Lee Stone's meticulously researched book tells the story of 13 female pilots who successfully completed a battery of tests more excruciating than the celebrated Mercury 7 astronauts, only to be denied the chance to go into space because of sexism and politics. This gripping narrative gives you a clear picture of what it was like for women in the 1960s and the obstacles they faced in trying to receive a fair shake in the work world. I was impressed with the entire Mercury 13 group of women, but Jerrie Cobb's story was especially inspiring and heartbreaking. The book finishes on an up note with a photographic and textual accounting of the accomplishments of those women who followed the path paved by the Mercury 13. Almost Astronauts will give you insight into what may be an unknown piece of history and may alter your view of some famous historical figures as well. I've read and seen many glowing accounts of the space program, so this book was a needed reality check for my background knowledge. I won't be surprised to see it receive an ALA honor on Monday.
You can take chapters of Almost Astronauts and teach sequence or author's purpose. It would be a great addition to the biography section of your classroom library as well. Another possible activity would be to contrast Almost Astronauts with another space related book.