Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream

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Annotation: A 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.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #34430
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: STEAM STEAM Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition Date: 2009
Pages: 133 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-7636-4502-8 Perma-Bound: 0-605-23898-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-7636-4502-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-23898-5
Dewey: 920
LCCN: 2008017487
Dimensions: 26 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
"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 women's liberation struggle in the 1950s and '60s ("What is a woman's 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.
Horn Book
The story of the ultimately unsuccessful effort to get women into NASA's Mercury astronaut training program is meticulously researched and thrillingly told. Stone uses first- and second-hand sources, including interviews with many of the women, and outstanding historical photographs. The revelatory text clearly shows the personal and physical risks taken by the women in pursuit of their dreams. Reading list, websites. Bib., ind.
Kirkus Reviews
The fascinating, dramatic story of the "Mercury 13," a group of women aviators who proved to be as courageous, intelligent and fit as any man, but who were nonetheless barred from NASA's astronaut program because of their gender. At the center of the story is Jerrie Cobb, a veteran pilot who successfully completed every test given to male astronauts. Her performance, and that of the others, proved women had the "right stuff," but these findings were not enough to overcome the prevailing prejudices of the time. It took 20 years before NASA admitted women into the astronaut program. Stone poignantly chronicles how the efforts of Cobb and her colleagues were ridiculed and thwarted by everyone from Vice-President Lyndon Johnson to Mercury astronauts Scott Carpenter and John Glenn and—in a bitter irony—Jackie Cochran, a highly respected, trailblazing female pilot, who appeared to be motivated by jealousy and spite. The author offers great insight into how deeply ingrained sexism was in American society and its institutions. Handsomely illustrated with photographs, this empowering story will leave readers inspired. (foreword, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)
Publishers Weekly

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. (Feb.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 57 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
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 123-127) and index.
Word Count: 26,179
Reading Level: 7.1
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 7.1 / points: 4.0 / quiz: 129067 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:8.3 / points:9.0 / quiz:Q46506
Lexile: 980L
Guided Reading Level: Y
Fountas & Pinnell: Y

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 Astronautsis 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.


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