Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream
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Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  753 ratings  ·  243 reviews
They had the right stuff. They defied the prejudices of the time. And they blazed a trail for generations of women to follow.

What does it take to be an astronaut? Excellence at flying, courage, intelligence, resistance to stress, top physical shape — any checklist would include these. But when America created NASA in 1958, there was another unspoken rule: you had to be a m...more
Hardcover, 134 pages
Published February 24th 2009 by Candlewick Press (first published February 29th 2000)
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2010 ALA Best Books for Young Adults
51st out of 92 books — 354 voters
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Community Reviews

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Every self-respecting space nut should know the story of the "Mercury 13". These women took the same tests the much more famous Mercury 7 astronauts took, and sometimes even harder tests, and even outperformed them in some cases. But they never saw space, because society at large, not to mention the decision makers in NASA and Washington, could not accept a woman as a hero for all, in any roll other than wife or mother. Worse, if they let women be astronauts, they'll have to let blacks be astron...more
Mrs. Romaniuk
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone is an incredible book. It tells the story of thirteen women and their quest to go into space in the 1950s. The few who were on the women’s side argued that the costs would be considerably smaller to send women into space because they weighed less and required less oxygen. They also compared themselves to Russia, which was training a woman to send into space during that time. However, they faced numerous obstacles and were truly “a...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Tanya Lee Stone did a great job of taking this complex political situation and making it intelligible for young readers. I really had no idea how complex it was until I read this book. These 13 women were passing the astronaut training tests with more than flying colors, but were never allowed to complete the tests due to simple male prejudice. These women were trying to overcome a deep-seated attitude toward women that pervaded society at the time. It makes me realize how far we've come today....more
Ms. Rosas
When I was in 5th grade I wanted nothing more than to be an astronaut. I had no idea that this was a field that had only recently opened to women. I had watched "The Right Stuff" probably a hundred times with my father. I had no idea there were 13 women who took the same agonizing tests and passed them with flying colors. In fact on some tests they did BETTER than their male counterparts.

When I picked this book up I just wanted to look at it quickly so I could be ready to mention it in the book...more
Edward Sullivan
Stone tells the fascinating, dramatic true story of the “Mercury 13,” a group of women aviators who proved to be as courageous, intelligent, and fit as any man, but were nonetheless barred from NASA’s astronaut program because of their gender. When NASA was created in 1958 and the astronaut training program established, visionaries like Randolph Lovelace, the physician who tested the Mercury 7 astronauts, were determined to prove women as capable as men to meet the demands of space travel. At th...more
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Reading Level: 4th Grade and older
This book is the story of the "Mercury 13" women who paved the way for women to be included in the space program. All 13 of these women, brave, skilled pilots were chosen to unofficially complete the three phases of astronaut testing. They proved they were just as strong and capable as men in fact they performed better than most of the men on these tests. Jeri Cobb was the first to complete and pass all three phases - Then NASA stopped the final phase of the tes...more
Amanda Healy
The book "Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream" is a fascinating book about womens stuggles at accomplishing their dreams in a male dominating society. Women were not allowed rights into space until 1978, and author Tanya Lee Stone really addresses the process and struggles towards becoming an astronaut. Stone does an admirable job of compiling her facts and figures and of profiling these strong and adventurous women who dared to dream. Stone also used black and white photgraphs throug...more
Angela Bailey
Title / Author / Publication Date:
Almost astronauts: 13 women who dared to dream. / Tanya Lee Stone. / 2009.

Genre: Young Adult - Historical Nonfiction.

Format: Book - print. 123 pages.

Plot summary:
"Presents the story of the thirteen women connected with NASA's Mercury 13 space mission, who braved prejudice and jealousy to make their mark and open the door for the female pilots and space commanders that would soon follow" (NoveList).

Considerations or precautions for readers advisory:
women's rights...more
In 1959, pictures appeared in newspapers and magazines showing the first seven Americans who would explore space. All of them were men. They'd been tested in military positions and had been through a battery of physical and psychological testing. Men were braver, stronger. But were they, really? Randolph Lovelace, the doctor who had tested the men, didn't think so. Lovelace believed that women could be every bit as good as men as astronauts, with the added bonus that women are smaller and lighte...more
I'm a 7th grade teacher, and my students can always tell when I'm reading an especially good book during our sustained silent reading time. I'm a reader who wears her literary heart on her sleeve and I'm not always quiet about it. The kids heard me gasping in shock as I read Suzanne Collins' THE HUNGER GAMES, laughing out loud at Erin Dionne's MODELS DON'T EAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES, and most recently, grumbling with indignation as I read Tanya Lee Stone's latest work of nonfiction for middle grade r...more
Kylie Svoboda
Audience: 4-6th girls
Appeal: This book would appeal to perhaps the girls who need a role model in their life or motivation that they can do great adventurous things. The book breaks the typical girl stereotype and empowers women to follow their dreams and fight for what what they believe in.
Award NCTE Orbis Pictus Award

I choose an E-Book from the website Pebble Go. I myself love killer whales and so I read the Killer Whales book under Animals then mammals and then lastly there is a...more
2010 Sibert Award
Grades 5-12
In the early 1960's, the “Mercury 13" passed-the same set of grueling physical and mental tests as their male counterparts of the Mercury 7 (think John Glenn, Alan Shepard). Stone constructs a detailed, engaging story that is inspiring and at times sinister. She celebrates women's passion for flying and examines the barriers that prevented them from becoming astronauts despite their talent and ability. What emerges is not only the story of how NASA eventually integrat...more
Araceli Aispuro
13 Women who dared to dream. These 13 women refused to fall victim of social order of their time. A woman's place is at home, to care for the children, to do chores, to cook, and to clean, and of course serve their husbands. Throughout the 1900's we see change gradually take place in gender roles. But that's not to say it was easy. Women fought for their rights and indeed they deserved them. These woman all differed in age, background, relationship status, some had already settled and even had c...more
This book had all the subtlety of books I read in my youth (and loved, admittedly) like Ten Great Nurses and Women Who Changed the World and Dee O'Hara: Astronaut Nurse.

I think Stone would have been much better off writing a book about sexism in the space program in general, or else about thirteen women who wanted to be astronauts and how they got where they did; what she has here is something of a combination that feels messy to me.
Monica Maher
Audience: 4th grade and up, girls
Appeal: This book focuses on the history of women in the NASA program and also delves into the women's liberation struggle of the '50's and '60's. This book has a lot of information in it and features pictures of the women on some of the pages. This book won the Robert F. Sibert Medal in 2010.
What a great, disturbing event in our history about the 13 wonderful women who were pilots and wanted to be the first female astronauts of the NASA program in the 1960s. Tanya Lee Stone writes a riveting fact filled commentary on the social order in effect in the 1960s, 70s, that stopped 13 women from achieving their dream in the space program. Stone's book also clearly and compelling writes about these women, their families, their personalities, and the way they had to present themselves in a w...more
One Sentence Review: Debates about intent and message aside, I thought Stone did a stand up job telling a story that few know and fewer still have ever heard, and in an engaging way at that.
Ryan Kuck
Audience: 3rd grade and older

Appeal: Young students love space and astronauts. It's an uplifting book that provides fantastic real history.

2010 Robert F. Sibbert Medal Winner
Ack. Reading about social injustices of the past (or present) always leave such a sour taste in my mouth... and the story of the 'Mercury 13,' a group of women aviators who dared to push the boundaries and prove they were just as capable as their male counterparts, was no exception.

I love that stories such as this one exist for younger readers -- not only do these types of books serve as a way to get children interested in history, but it's an enjoyable way to explore informational text in a soc...more
Y629.450092 STO
PLAYER Y629.450092 STO(4h)
I have never been someone who has been fascinated by space. Mostly I think I'm overwhelmed at the thought of it and, quite frankly, its vastness scares the bejeezes me. This book, however, was an absolute page-turner and kept me intrigued the entire time. Ok, it essentially doesn't take place in space (the driving obstacle on which the book is based) or discuss much about what happens when one is there. It's all about a group of determined women (the "Mercury 13") who wanted to be astronauts for...more
Ally Copper
“Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream” by Tanya Lee Stone is informative, intriguing, and infuriating. It tells the story of the 13 female pilots who desired to be considered for the opportunity for space flight. It focuses mainly on Jerrie Cobb, who was the first to go through (and pass with flying colors) the battery of tests that reveal if an individual can handle the physical and psychological challenges of space. There were 12 other women who took and passed the same tests, and NA...more
Richie Partington
23 April 2009 ALMOST ASTRONAUTS: 13 WOMEN WHO DARED TO DREAM by Tanya Lee Stone, Candlewick Press, February 2009, 134p. ISBN: 978-0-7636-3611-1

"'It is just a fact. The men go off and fight the wars and fly the airplanes and come back and help design and build and test them. The fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order.'"
-- John Glenn, July 1962, testifying before Congress in opposition to women being part of the U.S. space program.

When I read the publisher's catalogue...more
Winner of the 2010 Sibert Informational Book Medal, Almost Astronauts tells the little known story of the "Mercury 13," a group of aspiring female astronauts in the early 1960s who passed the same physical and psychological tests as their male peers but were shut out of the NASA space program because of their gender. The book's final chapter discusses the victories that women have achieved since the 1960s, in large part because of the example of the Mercury 13. Astronauts is the first juvenile...more
Feb 10, 2011 Jill rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: girls!! And boys. All people!
Recommended to Jill by: Nicole
I enjoy these nonfiction children's books. Tons of pictures, easy-to-read information, and always a very strong message.

This book was very informative and engaging. It told the story of thirteen women who wanted to become astronauts and underwent tests to see if they had the "Right Stuff" (two words that I got pretty sick of reading...). Their stories were interesting, and I appreciated that the author focused on their accomplishments rather than their family and hobbies, as she mentioned that p...more
I'm doing it people! I'm giving this book a coveted 5 stars! YEAH! I read this in a very short time because I honestly did not want to put it down. Most of the time the Superbowl commercials couldn't hold my attention like this book could! I had never heard of the Mercury 13 so this was ALL news to me. I've never been a science kind of gal so yeah.

This is the story of 13 women who tried against all odds to be let into the boys club that was (and still kind of is) NASA. They set out to prove that...more
They passed all the rigorous physical tests, they were expert pilots, they handled hours in an isolation tank better than their male counterparts, but these thirteen women were not admitted to NASA’s space program in the early 1960s. Officially, because they were not jet test pilots, but really it was a “hard wall of prejudice”—they were not white men. And behind closed doors they heard that directly from Vice President Lyndon Johnson, ironically the same man who a few years later, as president...more
Danielle Larca
"The world was not divided into those who had it and those who did not. This quality, this it, was never named...The idea was to prove...that you were one of the elected and anointed ones who had the right stuff."

When NASA was formed in 1958, the pressure was on to beat the Russians in the space race. A team was formed of seven male test jet pilots who were rigorously tested to determine whether they had the right stuff. They were called the Mercury 7. Apparently, the only people who could poss...more
Review: In Almost Astronauts, Tanya Lee Stone provides a look into the lives of some heroic women. Stone opens the curtains and lets the light shine in on the ugliness of discrimination in the early days of the space program. I knew that women had limited rights for many years, but had no idea that women couldn't rent cars or get loans without a man's signature even into the '60s. Some of the indignities that the women faced were astounding. It reminded me of Wheels of Change in that I kept bein...more
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Tanya Lee Stone is an award-winning author of books for kids and teens. Her work, which includes YA fiction (A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl), picture books (Elizabeth Leads the Way and Sandy's Circus), and nonfiction (Almost Astronauts and The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie) has won national awards such as the ALA's Sibert Medal, SCBWI's Golden Kite Award, YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction, Jane Add...more
More about Tanya Lee Stone...
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America's First Black Paratroopers Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote

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