Title: Blast Off!
Author: Suzanne Slade
Major Themes: Mary Sherman Morgan, Space, Science, Mathematics, Rockets
Synopsis: Though she came from a poor family, Mary Sherman Morgan excelled in school and helped to develop the rocket fuel that powered the United States in the space race.
A type of book I really enjoy is picture book biographies. It’s always fun to find a new one that I can read to my children. This evening, I read them Blast Off! The pictures in this book are amazingly detailed; you could spend a lot of time studying them.
When Mary Sherman was a young girl on a North Dakota farm, there was too much work for her to go to school—until the law forced her parents to send her. Even then, she had to keep up with her chores, but she learned quickly, and when she got to high school she fell in love with chemistry. That led to a career in science, and she soon knew more about rocket fuel than anyone else around.
When the lab in which Mary worked was given a top-secret job, to formulate a fuel to send rockets into space, Mary was put on the job. She worked and worked, using her trusty slide rule and lots of scrap paper. Then, she tested her mixture. What happened? Read the book to find out—and enjoy the exciting pictures!
Except for the mention a couple of times of women’s rights, and women being able to do anything, I liked Blast Off! I enjoyed learning about the beginning of space exploration from this point of view, and the importance of mathematics. We all enjoyed studying the pictures. Each two-page spread has an amazing amount of detail, with chemical formulas scribbled here and there to show what Mary was constantly working on. I also liked the biographical information at the back of the book, with a timeline of Mary’s life and the space race.
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12
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