Monday, April 06, 2020

MMGM- Spaceman and First Beagle in Space

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 
Massimino, Mike. Spaceman (Adapted for Young Readers): The True Story of a Young Boy's Journey to Becoming an Astronaut 
April 7th 2020 by Delacorte Press
Copy provided by the publisher

It must be hard for young readers today to understand the appeal of the space program. After all, the moon walk was fifty years ago. Ancient history. Also, there have been so many sad events in the space program in those fifty years. Still, in the 1970s, space travel was not only an enchanting prospect, it was possible. While actually going into space doesn't sound like a good plan to me personally, having spend a lot of time in my youth wearing a space helmet and "blasting off" over a drainage culvert on a Big Wheel, I can relate to Mr. Massimino's tales of watching the first moon walk, having an astronaut Halloween costume, and wanting to be an astronaut.

It's also hard for today's students to understand that young people weren't always encouraged to pursue their dreams, or given much guidance in doing so. There is so much career and college counseling that goes on today, and yet in the 1980s, it makes perfect sense that Massimino could have applied and been accepted to grad school in the wrong program-- political science instead of engineering! This is a great tale about having a dream and never really being encouraged to pursue it, yet persevering anyway.

While I loved the descriptions of grad school and working in the 1980s (Massimino was born in 1962, so he's three years older than I am), young readers will instead take to heart the training for being an astronaut, and the descriptions of the Hubble missions in which Massimino participated.

Readers who enjoy memoirs like Leland's 2017 Chasing space : an astronaut's story of grit, grace, and second chances, Kelly's 2018 Endurance : my year in space and how I got there Kelly, Scott, or Acevedo's 2018  Path to the Stars : my journey from Girl Scout to rocket scientist will definitely appreciate Massimino's story account of his path to becoming an astronaut while tenaciously holding on to what seemed like an impossible dream.

Schulz, Charles M. Snoopy: First Beagle in Space (PEANUTS AMP Series Book 14): A PEANUTS Collection
March 17th 2020 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher

Can I start recommending Snoopy comics to students as historical fiction? I think I can! Not only does this collection cover some of Snoopy's late 1960s adventures in space, but it has Charlie Brown preparing for bed by drinking a glass of milk and putting on new pajamas! My students would need explanations for both of these things!

Mike Massimino, who went on two missions to fix the Hubble space telescope, talks in his memoir about having a Snoopy astronaut figure with which he played a lot. It's really hard to describe just how pervasive Snoopy was during the 1970s and 1980s, especially around Christmas, for some reason. Stuffed toys, the IceCapades, ornaments, t shirts before there were t shirts for everything, lunchboxes-- you name it, it had Snoopy.

These books are a great way to keep Schulz's cartoon legacy going. I just wish they included the original publication dates in an easier to find location.


  1. My grandson grew up (he's a college freshman now) loving a stuffed Charlie Brown so much that they had to buy one to hide away when the first started falling apart. He certainly knows about Peanuts, but I understand about these two books really being old history for young ones. They sound interesting and fun!

  2. The fifth graders in our school go to space camp every year, so it's a big focus for them. Definitely still dreaming about the moon!

  3. Both of these books sound great! It must have been amazing to be alive right after astronauts first went into space—it must have felt like anything was possible! Also, I didn't realize that Snoopy was such a cultural phenomenon just a few decades ago—it often seems like Snoopy is far more beloved than Charlie Brown or the other characters in Peanuts. Thanks for the great post!

  4. These books sound interesting, especially the Snoopy one. Peanuts seems to appeal to all ages. My students would enjoy that one.

  5. Oh my, a new Snoopy space book. And I bet this is one my hubby hasn't seen yet. :) Yes, YES, Snoopy was everything during the 1970s and 1980s. My husband's inner self was Charlie Brown, so we pick up little Charlies and Snoopys whenever we find them to keep in his college office. The kids have certainly enjoyed reading our selection of Schulz cartoons. Thanks for sharing these new titles, Karen!

  6. Thanks for these Karen. I'm interested in Spaceman, but my library only has the adult version. Not that it really matters these days since it isn't a digital copy anyway. I was a fan of Charlie Brown and Snoopy. We even had a part beagle mongrel who we named Snoopy because he looked so much like him. My boys enjoyed the comics, but were much more enthralled with Calvin and Hobbs.
    Hope you are doing well, staying safe and getting lots of quilting accomplished.

  7. Spaceman sounds like a book I'd like. Thanks for sharing!