Astrotwins: Project Blast Off is a middle grade book by astronaut Mark Kelly.
A team of middle schoolers prepares for blastoff in this adventure from the author of the New York Times bestselling Mousetronaut, based on the childhoods of real-life astronauts Mark Kelly and his twin brother Scott.
It’s a long, hot summer and Scott and Mark are in big trouble for taking apart (aka destroying) their dad’s calculator. As a punishment, they’re sent to their grandfather’s house, where there’s no TV and they have to do chores. And Grandpa is less tolerant of the twins’ constant bickering. “Why don’t you two work together on something constructive. What if you built a go-kart or something?” Grandpa suggests.
But it’s not a go-kart the twins are interested in. They want to build a rocket. With the help of Jenny, nicknamed Egg, and a crew of can-do kids, they set out to build a real rocket that will blast off and orbit the Earth. The question soon becomes: which twin will get to be the astronaut?
Written by a NASA astronaut with four space flights under his belt, this exciting story includes extensive back matter on the space program with fantastic facts and details.
Astrotwins is a cute book. Mark and Scott are adventurous twins who love to take things apart and put them back together. Their grandfather suggests they spend their summer working on a project. The twins and their friend Jenny ("Egg") decide to make a spaceship for Jenny's next science fair project.
There are many things I love about Astrotwins. It's science heavy, which is cool, and it is presented in a way that educates the reader. There's also a lot of information on astronauts and the space program. Astrotwins is set somewhere around 1974 (I think), and the women and girls are strong, capable characters. I also love that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
That being said, I did find issue with the lack of incredulity and excitement over accomplishing the impossible. I have no problems suspending my disbelief of kids being able to build a spaceship and launch into orbit. I'm a big fan of the movie Explorers. I do, however, think building a functioning spacecraft would be a huge deal. I want my kids to believe they can do the impossible, but I also want them to understand and acknowledge their accomplishments. I want them to be excited when they reach their goals. Intrinsic rewards, for the win. There was an emotional disconnect for me, and it made it hard for me to celebrate the impossible the way I did while watching Explorers (or Space Camp! I loved that movie, too.)
Despite the emotional disconnect, I did enjoy reading Astrotwins. I'm adding it to my kids' bookcase because I think they will enjoy reading it, as well.
6/10: Good Read
Review copy provided by publisher