NONFICTION

Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier

First Second. Feb. 2020. 176p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250760036; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781626728776.
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Gr 4-7–Focusing on the space race through the eyes of the women who made it possible, Ottaviani and Wicks, the creative team behind Primates, return with another accurate, informative, people-focused historical account. Narrator Mary Cleave, a former American astronaut, introduces readers to influential women such as Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space; engineer Dottie Lee, who worked on the Apollo space shield; and aviator Jerrie Cobb, who, as part of the Mercury 13, endured the same physiological and psychological evaluation as astronauts aboard the Mercury Seven. The nonlinear storytelling can be challenging at times, as the plot leaps across years and countries with minimal flagging for the reader. The clever use of a faux Cyrillic font, however, makes it easy to tell when characters are Russian. The artwork is cartoonish and appealing. Though the book includes details that make the subject accessible (one scene discusses the number of tampons needed by female astronauts), technical complexity is never oversimplified. Readers will be intrigued and inspired to dive into further research to understand some of the jargon and learn more about the women profiled here.
VERDICT Fans of Ottaviani’s T-Minus: The Race to the Moon, as well as those interested in science or space travel, will eagerly gravitate to this title. A stellar addition to all collections.

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