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Astronauts : women on the final frontier
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A nonfiction graphic novel collection of portraits celebrating the lives and achievements of history’s female astronauts includes coverage of first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova, the mixed-race trailblazers of Group 9 and NASA’s investigations into how to make space travel possible for everyone. Illustrations. - (Baker & Taylor)

In the graphic novel Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier, Jim Ottaviani and illustrator Maris Wicks capture the great humor and incredible drive of Mary Cleave, Valentina Tereshkova, and the first women in space.

The U.S. may have put the first man on the moon, but it was the Soviet space program that made Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space. It took years to catch up, but soon NASA’s first female astronauts were racing past milestones of their own. The trail-blazing women of Group 9, NASA’s first mixed gender class, had the challenging task of convincing the powers that be that a woman’s place is in space, but they discovered that NASA had plenty to learn about how to make space travel possible for everyone.

- (McMillan Palgrave)

Author Biography

Jim Ottaviani began writing graphic novels about scientists in 1997. They include The Imitation Game, Primates, Feynman, and Hawking. His books are New York Times bestsellers, have been translated into over a dozen languages, and have received praise from publications ranging from Nature and Physics World to Entertainment Weekly and Variety.

Maris Wicks lives in sunny Somerville, Massachusetts. She is the author behind Human Body Theater, as well as the illustrator of New York Times-bestselling Primates, with Jim Ottaviani. When she's not making comics, Wicks works as a program educator at the New England Aquarium.

- (McMillan Palgrave)

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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Narrated in large part by Mary Cleave, who was among the second group of women admitted to NASA's astronaut training program, this in-depth and enlightening comic digs into not only the history of women in space but the rigors of the training process in general. There's a lot here, but Ottaviani and Wicks (Primates, 2013) handle it deftly, bringing humor and clarity to the density of the material. The sequence, for instance, in which Jerrie Cobb and Janey Hart testify in a congressional hearing about the importance of including women in the space program is cleverly intercut with scenes of Valentina Tereshkova preparing for her history-making spaceflight. Wicks makes great use of facial expressions—glib mockery from the U.S. senators, frustration on Cobb and Hart—to emphasize just what these women were up against. For all the trail-blazing, however, Ottaviani and Wicks emphasize above all else that the women in these programs are talented pilots and scientists, and they had essential work to do. Yes, some of that work was pushing back against sexist notions (jokes came in particularly handy here), but first, it was successfully operating a space shuttle. Gobs of humor, lively artwork, and tidy explanations of the science make this a standout among the vast field of books about the U.S. space program. Grades 7-10. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

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