Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier is not just a book about the Women of Space (the ones that inspired: calling Nichelle Nichols. And the ones that took the ride: calling Sally Ride. Sorry, must do one bad pun) but how they got there and what happened once they were. We see both the men and women who boldly went where no one went before. We see those who broken color and gender lines. We see the inner workings of training, the ships themselves and much more.
Jim Ottaviani does not base his story (told by astronaut Dr. Mary Cleave) just in America history, but included is the history of Soviet women in space is also shown. The ins and out of space travel was not only political, but sexual too (Soviets wanted to put a woman up before the United States, but also wanted her pretty, feminine, a role model). We see the differences between the two programs as well.
The journey of the women who came before are shown with realism and a little humor. But I am sure that is because if the women did not laugh, they would have cried. (Also, how could you not laugh at imagining the two women that crashed a “stag gathering”? Or seeing the astronaut really happy Cleave set up the toilet on the craft? Or how Cleave’s comment was created?) We see from training to going to DC to fight for their case and back again. Not only did they have to fight in big ways, but little everyday ways. Nothing is spared as we read about the tests taken (one a tube having to be swallowed) the zero g issues, not being able to pour liquids in space, the toilet issues, and more. Yet, nothing is gross or inappropriate. All ages (though best probably for ages 10 and up) can enjoy.
Illustrations of course are like the graphic novel Primates, as Maris Wicks and Ottaviani also created that gem. Yet, as I was reading, I saw that there was a Lucy Knisley vibe as well: lighthearted, but getting the job done. The end includes illustrations and photographs of some of the people who were the ones to be first to break NASA barriers (due to color and gender). This is a fun, educational and must have book to add to book collections.