Saturday, January 02, 2021

Mae Jemison: Brave Rocketeer

Alexander, Heather. Dr. Mae Jemison: Brave Rocketeer (Hidden Heroes #2)
January 7th 2020 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Jemison, born in 1956, was always interested in science, even at a time when girls, and especially Black girls, were not usually encouraged to excel in this field. With the help of supportive parents and teachers, she was able to go to medical school, but her love of space travel, heightened because of the time during which she grew up, never left her. In the early years of the space program, it was necessary to have been a fighter pilot in order to be an astronaut, and since women weren't allowed in that section of the military, women were closed out of the space program as well. eventually this changed; Sally Ride, who was a few years older, was one of the pioneering women. Jemison finally managed to make it into the space program, but left after her first mission in order to focus on education and paving the way for other women in the field. 
Strengths: This book did a nice job not only of following Jemison's life, but providing context for her experiences. Readers who devoured the Who Was or I Am series of biographies in elementary school will find that the VIP series has a bit more information. There were lists of things that women couldn't do in the 1950s and 60s, background about NASA, and a good timeline at the end. This was a quick, well constructed read. 
Weaknesses: With more recent biographies, I want them all to have as many photos as O'Shaughnessy's Sally Ride : a Photobiography of America's Pioneering Woman in Space. Looking back at my own elementary reading, however, I realized that the biographies I devoured rarely even had drawings. Young readers can always look for pictures on the internet if they are very interested, but for students without that capability, pictures would be interesting. 
What I really think: I would love to see more books in this series about inventors, scientists, and social innovators who were Black or from other marginalized and unsung cultural backgrounds about whom there aren't as many books. There is supposedly a book about Mahalia Jackson coming out soon, but I would enjoy books about people I've never heard of even more!
Ms. Yingling

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