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Almost Astronauts
Cover of Almost Astronauts
Almost Astronauts
13 Women Who Dared to Dream
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They had the right stuff. They defied the prejudices of the time. And they blazed a trail for generations of women to follow.What does it take to be an astronaut? Excellence at flying, courage,...
They had the right stuff. They defied the prejudices of the time. And they blazed a trail for generations of women to follow.What does it take to be an astronaut? Excellence at flying, courage,...
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  • They had the right stuff. They defied the prejudices of the time. And they blazed a trail for generations of women to follow.

    What does it take to be an astronaut? Excellence at flying, courage, intelligence, resistance to stress, top physical shape — any checklist would include these. But when America created NASA in 1958, there was another unspoken rule: you had to be a man. Here is the tale of thirteen women who proved that they were not only as tough as the toughest man but also brave enough to challenge the government. They were blocked by prejudice, jealousy, and the scrawled note of one of the most powerful men in Washington. But even though the Mercury 13 women did not make it into space, they did not lose, for their example empowered young women to take their place in the sky, piloting jets and commanding space capsules. ALMOST ASTRONAUTS is the story of thirteen true pioneers of the space age.
    Back matter includes an author's note, an appendix, further reading, a bibliography, sources, source notes, and an index.

 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Tanya Lee Stone is the Robert F. Sibert Award–winning author of Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. Her latest book, Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles was a 2014 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist.


    I grew up on the beach on Long Island Sound, so tide pools and jetties were my playground. I always read a ton of books, and would take out more than I could carry from the library on the weekends. My dad is a professor and writer and my mom was an elementary-school librarian, so books were everywhere in our house. My dad built me a kid-size reading loft only I could climb up to—I spent hours up there! In high school, I studied music at a performing arts high school. In college I was an English major at Oberlin, which gave me the perfect excuse to spend all my time reading and writing. And after college I was an editor until I moved to Vermont in 1996 and became a writer.


    I love to write stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things and shine the light on their little-known stories. Change happens slowly, many times because people quietly push through barriers and move things forward until—bam!— someone else makes a big splash. But headline-makers often stand on the shoulders of those who first paved the way for them to follow. You can read about some of these trailblazers in my books Almost Astronauts and Courage Has No Color.

    Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:

    1. If I had to choose a different job, I would want to be on Broadway, singing in a musical!
    2. I have climbed into a tank of harbor seals wearing thigh-high rubber boots in order to help a veterinarian give some friendly harbor seals an annual exam— all in the name of research.They are cute, but they will bite for food!
    3. I have a mini-poodle named Barney who likes to climb in between my pillows when he naps during the day.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 4, 2009
    Enlivened by numerous b&w and color photographs, this thorough book takes readers back to the early 1960s to tell the story of 13 women who underwent a battery of physical endurance tests (including hours spent in a deprivation tank) and psychological analysis to determine their readiness to travel in space. A gripping narrative surfaces in Stone's text, as the women are repeatedly thwarted by NASA, discriminated against and patronized by society (“Gene Nora Stumbough's boss said she couldn't have time off. So she quit. Sarah Gorelick had the same problem.... So she
    quit”). Readers with an interest in history and in women's struggle for equality will undoubtedly be moved. Ages 10–up.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from March 1, 2009
    Gr 5-7-Stone adopts a tone of righteous indignation in chronicling the quixotic efforts of 13 women to win admission into NASA's initial astronaut training program in the early 1960s. The women were all pilots (one, Jerrie Cobb, had more hours in the air than John Glenn or Scott Carpenter), earned high scores in preliminary tests, and even counted a senator's wife among their number. But resistance came from all directionsincluding NASA regulations, which were weighted toward men; media coverage that reflected contemporary gender expectations; political maneuvering by then vice president LBJ and other officials; and the crushing opposition expressed by renowned aviatrix Jackie Cochran in a 1962 Congressional hearing. Properly noting, however, that losing "depends on where you draw the finish line," the author closes with chapters on how women did ultimately win their way into spacenot only as mission specialists, but also as pilots and commanders. Illustrated with sheaves of photos, and based on published sources, recently discovered documents, and original interviews with surviving members of the "Mercury 13," this passionately written account of a classic but little-known challenge to established gender prejudices also introduces readers to a select group of courageous, independent women.John Peters, New York Public Library

    Copyright 2009 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    February 15, 2009
    Grades 5-8 Space gals. Astronettes. Astrodolls . . . Who do these women think they are? The media mocked them. Male astronauts did not want them, and neither did then vice-president Lyndon Johnson. If they were to let women into the space program, blacks and other minorities would be next. Nearly 20 years before the U.S. officially admitted women into the astronaut program, 13 women, known as the Mercury 13, fought for the right to soar into space. This dramatic, large-size photo-essay covers their stories, along with the exciting politics of the womens liberation struggle in the 1950s and 60s (What is a womans place?) and the breakthrough science and technology surrounding space exploration, including details of the would-be astronauts tests and training. The chatty, immediate style (Picture this) and full-page photos make for a fast read, and the crucial civil-rights history will stay with readers. The long, spacious back matter is part of the story, with detailed chapter notes and a bibliography.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)

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    Candlewick Press
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