Ellen Takes Flight: The Life of Astronaut Ellen Ochoa

By Doreen Rappaport
Illustrators Illustrated by Oliver Dominguez Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher Hachette Book Group Imprint Little, Brown BFYR ISBN


Ellen Takes Flight: The Life of Astronaut Ellen Ochoa

In stock

Celebrate the groundbreaking life of astronaut and Johnson Space Center director Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina in space, in this latest book in the award-winning Big Words biography series.

Young Ellen loved to learn. Encouraged by her mother, she graduated at the top of her high school and college classes, and studied electrical engineering in graduate school. An accomplished engineer by age 30, with three patents to her name, she kept learning and trying new things. When NASA began accepting women and people of color to the astronaut program, Ellen found herself drawn to this exciting and demanding career. On her first mission, she was the only woman aboard the shuttle Discovery and the first Latina to reach outer space. After four space flights, she became the first Latina director of the Johnson Space Center and has received numerous distinctions and awards.

This addition to the award-winning Big Words biography series celebrates a STEM pioneer known for her brilliance, persistence, and an intellectual curiosity as infinite as the stars. With dynamic illustrations by Oliver Dominguez, Doreen Rappaport’s richly detailed narrative—punctuated with standout quotes from Ellen herself—will inspire a new generation to unravel the mysteries of the universe.

Author's note. Illustrator's note. Time line. Selected bibliography. Source notes. Full-color illustrations were done in gouache, ink, color pencil, and pastel.
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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 2–5—The latest entry in Rappaport's "Big Words'' series centers around Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina in space. Ochoa grew up in a home filled with music and a love for learning, a granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and a girl growing up in the 1960s. A career in the sciences wasn't one that was easily accessible to her. But inspired by her mother, she excelled in school and fell in love with physics. After rigorous training and studies, the accomplished flutist and electrical engineer went on to become the first Latina in space. In accessible free verse, Rappoport details the hurdles that Ochoa had to overcome to reach her achievements. The author offers a thorough accounting of the subject's life. It doesn't stop at Ochoa's first visit to space; it also details the three flights that followed, her appointment as the first Latinx of the Johnson Space Center, and her mission to educate kids about STEM careers. Peppered throughout are relevant quotations from the astronaut. The text and illustrations combine to show Ochoa's personality and passion for education, music, and her career. The majestic art is done in gouache, ink, color pencil, and pastel. The paintings are reminiscent of Normal Rockwell's work and have incredible detail. Back matter includes author and illustrator notes, time line, bibliography, and source notes. VERDICT An excellent picture book biography of a groundbreaking Latina that soars. Add to all nonfiction shelves.—Shelley M. Diaz

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