We Dream of Space
We Dream of Space

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Annotation: In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, three middle-graders struggle with personal challenges and connections while working on a space-based science project.
Catalog Number: #215097
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 391 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-274730-4 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-7969-6
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-274730-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-7969-2
Dewey: Fic
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
In the foreground of this novel are three siblings. Twelve-year-old Fitch lives for video games and is angry through and through. His twin sister Bird is an amiable, peacekeeping engineering brainiac. Their older brother Cash feels he is a failure at school and everywhere else. In the middle ground is the toxic marriage of their parents, a couple given to sourness, sarcasm, and bickering. In the background, coloring the emotional tone of the book, establishing its historical setting, and propelling the plot, is the upcoming launch of the space shuttle Challenger in January 1986. With short chapters focusing alternately on each sibling, Kelly establishes distinct and original characters, doing an especially convincing job of re-creating, in Fitch, the physicality of rage. The form also emphasizes the emotional isolation of each member of the family. Middle school is portrayed in all its intensity, where a social misstep and an existential question about the meaning of life have the same weight. Tension builds until the shock of the Challenger disaster resets the relationship among the three children, releasing kindness in each one. Kelly creates a crisp, moving portrait of family dysfunction and the resilience of the young. Back matter provides information on the Challenger spacecraft and the seven crew members who died when it exploded, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe and mission specialist Judith Resnik (Bird's idol).
Kirkus Reviews
Three siblings face their middle school problems as they learn about space.The Thomas siblings—13-year-old Cash and 12-year-old twins Fitch and Bird—all struggle to navigate the doubts of middle school and their dysfunctional family. Cash sees himself as a failure. He isn’t good at anything, and now he’s repeating seventh grade with his two younger siblings. Fitch is good at video games but bad at controlling his temper. Bird likes tinkering with machines but feels invisible. The Thomas household is toxic with their parents’ constant fighting, and Bird feels like she has to keep their family from malfunctioning altogether. It’s January 1986, and their teacher is gearing them up for the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. Bird is enthralled with the space mission and decides she’s going to be a shuttle commander one day. But when the Challenger disaster occurs, Bird finds herself in need of the support she’s been giving. Each chapter begins with a date in January 1986, then divides into short vignettes following each sibling on that day. Kelly writes a heartfelt story of family and the bond of siblings. Even though readers are transported to 1986, the characters’ social, emotional, and familial struggles will feel familiar and timely. Characters seem to default to white, with the occasional surname hinting at ethnic difference.Put this book in your orbit. (historical note, resources) (Historical fiction. 8-13)
Publishers Weekly
Newbery Award-winner Kelly (Hello, Universe) follows three Delaware siblings in the weeks leading up to the January 1986 launch of the Challenger. Practical, schematics-interested Bird, 12, dreams of being NASA-s -first female shuttle commander.- Her twin, Fitch, who battles a temper, spends his afternoons at the arcade, waiting until the last minute to head home to their quarreling, sometimes volatile parents. After Cash, the twins- brooding 13-year-old brother, fails seventh grade, winds up in his siblings- grade, and is dropped from the basketball team, he breaks his wrist and ends up in a cast. Meanwhile, their science teacher endeavors to build her students- excitement for NASA-s Challenger launch-and for a female teacher heading into space. But January 1986 is difficult for them all: Bird-s feelings of insignificance and Cash-s feelings of inadequacy grow, while Fitch is suspended for belittling a classmate in language similar to his fighting parents-. As Kelly-s chapters count down to the Challenger-s disastrous launch, they document a family in crisis and three untethered siblings. With painfully accurate insight and clarity, Kelly shows the incredible power of words-the irreparable damage they inflict and their ability to uplift-while crafting a captivating story about family-s enduring bonds. Ages 8-12. (May)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 4-6 It's January 1986, and siblings Bird, Fitch, and Cash's seventh grade science classes are anticipating the Challenger shuttle launch at the end of the month. Twins Bird and Fitch are now in the same grade as their older brother Cash, who is repeating the year. Cash's grades are poor, Fitch can't control his temper, and Bird dreams of becoming an astronaut, but her mother only talks to her about dieting. All three siblings sink into separate coping mechanisms when their parents' daily bickering inevitably erupts into fights. Entrada Kelly tells the story through each sibling's viewpoint in distinct and engaging voices, giving readers a choice of characters to relate to. The Nelson-Thomas family is white, Bird's friend Devonte is African American, and teacher Ms. Salonga has a Filipina surname. Entrada Kelly creates a vivid historical setting by being selective with 1980s details and highlighting elements with high kid appeal, such as arcade games and popular TV shows. There is similar restraint in recounting the Challenger explosion, depicted only by its effect on the characters rather than used gratuitously to complete a dramatic arc. There is no forced march towards a resolution, and the book simply ends with a greater resilience on the part of Cash, Fitch and Bird, along with an awareness that, by joining forces, they have the power to form the family they want themselves. VERDICT Lyrical but direct writing, relatable characters, and an engaging 1980s setting give this thoughtful read high appeal for middle grade readers. Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* The prolific, Newbery Medal winning Kelly contemplates space exploration and sibling bonds in her latest captivating novel. Twins Fitch and Bird and their older brother Cash each have strikingly different personalities and carry on largely separate lives, retreating to their rooms and hobbies to escape their parents' frequent bickering and criticism. Kelly begins her chronicles of the Nelson-Thomas siblings on January 1, 1986, bookending the narrative with the hopes of a fresh year and the historic launch of the space shuttle Challenger. Although some readers may not be familiar with the Challenger mission, the book's lead-up to the tragedy is propelled by the siblings' alternating perspectives and the advancement of the calendar days represented by each chapter, giving readers the sensation of a countdown and resulting in absorbing momentum. Kelly deftly contrasts the hope and possibility of space exploration with the tempestuous home life of the Nelson-Thomas kids, where so much seems mundane and out of their control. The author never shies from difficult realities ether national tragedy or domestic troubles d offers no tidy solutions, instead allowing her characters a newfound sense of agency and the sweet reward of finding solace in each other. Another wondrous title from a remarkably talented author. Includes a section with information about Challenger and recommended resources. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Award-winning Kelly is showing no signs of slowing her climb to the heights of kidlit fame. Be prepared for lots of requests for this one.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (page 391).
Word Count: 48,045
Reading Level: 4.6
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.6 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 509477 / grade: Middle Grades
Guided Reading Level: P
Fountas & Pinnell: P

A Newbery Honor Book * BookPage Best Books * Chicago Public Library Best Fiction * Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee * Horn Book Fanfare * New York Times Notable Children's Book * School Library Journal Best Book * Today Show Pick * An ALA Notable Book "A 10 out of 10 . . . Anyone interested in science, sibling relationships, and friendships will enjoy reading We Dream of Space."--Time for Kids Newbery Medalist and New York Times-bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly transports readers to 1986 and introduces them to the unforgettable Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas in this pitch-perfect middle grade novel about family, friendship, science, and exploration. This acclaimed Newbery Honor Book is a great choice for readers of Kate DiCamillo, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Rebecca Stead. Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties. Cash, who loves basketball but has a newly broken wrist, is in danger of failing seventh grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing Major Havoc at the arcade on Main and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn't understand. And Bird, his twelve-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA's first female shuttle commander, but feels like she's disappearing. The Nelson Thomas children exist in their own orbits, circling a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga. As the launch of the Challenger approaches, Ms. Salonga gives her students a project--they are separated into spacecraft crews and must create and complete a mission. When the fated day finally arrives, it changes all of their lives and brings them together in unexpected ways. Told in three alternating points of view, We Dream of Space is an unforgettable and thematically rich novel for middle grade readers. We Dream of Space is illustrated throughout by the author.

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