The Spacesuit: How a Seamstress Helped Put Man on the Moon

Jun. 2019. 36p. glossary. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781848864153.
K-Gr 3–Eleanor “Ellie” Foraker loved to design and sew, so she followed her passion and became a notably creative and adept seamstress. One day, an engineer mentioned that the company she worked for wanted to enter a competition to design a spacesuit. He invited Ellie and some other seamstresses to team up with engineers to submit a design. Together, they developed a soft spacesuit with 21 layers of cloth intended to protect astronauts and give them freedom of movement. After correcting a small glitch in the form of a broken zipper, Ellie’s company won the competition. This book features a simple, annotated narrative and bright, realistic pictures. The narrative tension is very mild and the team’s success is never in doubt, so the story is less than thrilling. On the other hand, the book does fill one gap in the history of women’s contributions to the professional workforce and the space program in particular. Though it overstates Ellie’s impact (she did not personally “change the world”), the book lends dignity to the idea that everyone’s work matters. Some could argue that the book’s chosen subtitle, “How One Seamstress Helped Put Man on the Moon,” is frustratingly sexist, encouraging readers to believe that a woman’s proper place in the space program is, well, in the sewing room.
VERDICT A sweet but somewhat flawed effort to bring a few more women into the light of history

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