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We Dream of Space

By: Erin Entrada Kelly

Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the nation waits expectantly for the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties. Cash, who loves basketball but has a newly broken wrist, is in danger of failing seventh grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing Major Havoc at the arcade on Main and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn’t understand. And Bird, his twelve-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA’s first female shuttle commander, but feels like she’s disappearing.

The Nelson Thomas children exist in their own orbits, circling a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga. As the launch of the Challenger approaches, Ms. Salonga gives her students a project—they are separated into crews and assigned a position on a spacecraft, and they must create and complete a mission. As life at home gets more complicated for the siblings, this project prompts each of them to reflect on their places in the universe. And when the fated day arrives, it changes all of their lives and brings them together in unexpected ways.

“About the Challenger disaster.” Further reading. 

ISBN: 9780062747303

JLG Release: Sep 2020


Sensitive Areas: Language: Mild Language , Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism , Language: Infrequent Use
Topics: Challenger (spacecraft) , Space shuttle accidents , The 1980s , Siblings , Family life , Middle schools , Conduct of life , Body image , Basketball , Arcades , Astronauts

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Awards & Honors

2021 Newbery Medal Honor Book

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

It’s January 1986, and siblings Bird, Fitch, and Cash’s seventh grade science classes are anticipating the Challenger shuttle launch at the end of the month. Twins Bird and Fitch are now in the same grade as their older brother Cash, who is repeating the year. Cash’s grades are poor, Fitch can’t control his temper, and Bird dreams of becomi It’s January 1986, and siblings Bird, Fitch, and Cash’s seventh grade science classes are anticipating the Challenger shuttle launch at the end of the month. Twins Bird and Fitch are now in the same grade as their older brother Cash, who is repeating the year. Cash’s grades are poor, Fitch can’t control his temper, and Bird dreams of becoming an astronaut, but her mother only talks to her about dieting. All three siblings sink into separate coping mechanisms when their parents’ daily bickering inevitably erupts into fights. Entrada Kelly tells the story through each sibling’s viewpoint in distinct and engaging voices, giving readers a choice of characters to relate to. The Nelson-Thomas family is white, Bird’s friend Devonte is African American, and teacher Ms. Salonga has a Filipina surname. Entrada Kelly creates a vivid historical setting by being selective with 1980s details and highlighting elements with high kid appeal, such as arcade games and popular TV shows. There is similar restraint in recounting the Challenger explosion, depicted only by its effect on the characters rather than used gratuitously to complete a dramatic arc. There is no forced march towards a resolution, and the book simply ends with a greater resilience on the part of Cash, Fitch and Bird, along with an awareness that, by joining forces, they have the power to form the family they want themselves. Lyrical but direct writing, relatable characters, and an engaging 1980s setting give this thoughtful read high appeal for middle grade readers.

Book Details

ISBN

9780062747303

First Release

September 2020

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

8 3/10" x 5 1/2"

Page Count

400

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.6; Points: 7;

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Greenwillow Bks.

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Language: Mild Language , Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism , Language: Infrequent Use

Topics

Challenger (spacecraft), Space shuttle accidents, The 1980s, Siblings, Family life, Middle schools, Conduct of life, Body image, Basketball, Arcades, Astronauts,

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Cover Art

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