Sunday, May 06, 2018

Nothing Is Impossible! Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

Little Mae was a dreamer.

One day Mae was working on an assignment for school about what she wanted to be when she grew up. She told her mother she wanted to see Earth.

"This is Earth, Mae," her mother said.

"I know, but I want to see earth from out there," she said, pointing to the sky.

Her mom told Mae that to do that, she would have to be an astronaut.

"You can do it. If you dream it, if you believe it, and work hard for it, nothing is impossible."

From that day, Mae dreamed of going into space. On Halloween, she went out dressed in her homemade astronaut costume. She read every book she could find about astronauts and space travel. She told everyone that she was going to be an astronaut. Sometimes the other kids laughed when she said that. Her dad assured her that she would find a way to realize her dreams, but not everyone was so hopeful. Knowing how hard it would be to be selected to be an astronaut, particularly for an African American female, one well-meaning teacher tried to let her down easy.

"Are you sure you wouldn't want to be a nurse? That would be a good profession for you."

But her mom said, "I hope you didn't believe her. Follow your dream!"

And Mae did. She studied hard. She got a degree in chemical engineering, a medical degree, and served in the Peace Corps. Then she applied to be an astronaut. And the rest is history.

Mae Jemison went on to be the first African American woman to become an astronaut. She dreamed it, she believed it, and she worked for it, and in 1992 she saw Earth from space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

Written to inspire young readers, Roda Ahmed's Mae Among the Stars (Harper, 2018) centers on the childhood experiences of young Mae Jemison, whose abilities and determination allowed her to realize her dreams. Stasia Burrington's illustrations are soft and stylized to appeal to young children with their rounded shapes and watercolored palette, while the author includes an informational afterword which provides details which make this primary-grade biography a source for primary grade biography book reports. In a starred review Kirkus writes, "An enchanting, inspirational account of Jemison’s early life that illustrates the importance of encouraging and supporting children’s dreams."

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