Review of Blast Off!: How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America into Space

Blast Off!: How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America into Space Blast Off!: How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America into Space
by Suzanne Slade; illus. by Sally Wern Comport
Primary, Intermediate    Calkins/Astra    40 pp.    g
4/22    978-1-68437-241-6    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-63592-559-3    $11.99

Slade (A Computer Called Katherine, rev. 7/19; June Almeida, Virus Detective!) follows noted chemist Morgan from her North Dakota childhood working on the family farm to the triumph of watching the rocket that launched the U.S.’s first satellite into Earth’s orbit—using fuel she developed—with many obstacles and challenges along the way. Comport’s (Wonder Women of Science) illustrations (“a hybrid of collage, digital collage, prisma drawings on vellum, and digital paint”) are effective in showing the discrimination Morgan faced as a young female chemist in the 1940s, her isolation surrounded by men, and the wonderment of her accomplishments. Some of the spreads, for example, layer graph-paper squares and scientific formulas over Midcentury-style starbursts and linoleum patterns, appearing more complex in parallel with the difficulty of problems Morgan solved. Detailed back matter includes a timeline of Morgan’s life and further biographical information; photographs; more on the rocket and satellite; and an author’s note explaining that since such little information about her subject’s work was available, Slade “used known facts to creatively fill in a few gaps.” An engaging introduction to one woman’s mostly unheralded contributions to American space flight.

From the March/April 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Laura Koenig

Laura Koenig is the Team Leader for Central Library Children's Services at the Boston Public Library.

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