Wednesday, February 10, 2016

To the Stars!: The First American Woman to Walk in Space

To the Stars!
written by Carmella Van Vleet and Dr. Kathy Sullivan
illustrated by Nicole Wong
2016 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

On another bright blue day, Kathy listened to mission control count down the minutes. "T minus three minutes and counting."

Kathy Sullivan loves adventure. She wants to explore at a time when girls are encouraged to do other things. Kathy dreams of being in the sky and often wonders where planes in the sky are going. To the Stars! tells the story of this unique pioneer who was one of the first women astronauts and the first American woman to walk in space. A giant kudos to the authors because I love how this picture book is set up. The lives of young Kathy and adult Kathy alternate between two page spreads. As a child, she does a cannonball in the cool water and notices how her arms and legs moved in slow motion. A grown up Kathy wears a space suit underwater as she simulates the working conditions above our atmosphere. Teenager Kathy is nervous as she learns to fly a plane with all of its bells and whistles. The space shuttle presents a similar challenge to an adult Kathy. My favorite part of the book shows Kathy being a passenger in an experimental Breezy aircraft.
 Courtesy of Wikipedia

The authors describe Kathy as sitting on a magical kitchen chair. The connection between text and illustration is terrific. The book ends with a two page spread showing Kathy above the earth, working in space. 

This is an inspirational book that would be great for sharing during a unit on space and/or a biography project. Students of both genders will be fascinated by the story and the illustrations. Readers will also appreciate the generous back matter. Included is a note from Kathy to students and brief biographies about other women in space. Beyond inspiring my students, I will use To the Stars! to work on the skill of comparing and using a graphic organizer. This is one flight you will not want to miss. 

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