cover image Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier

Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier

Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks. First Second, $19.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-62672-877-6

Following on the heels of the first all-female spacewalk in October 2019 comes a timely graphic novel from the pair behind Primates. This latest offering examines the hurdles, triumphs, politics, and prejudices surrounding the first women astronauts. Lively cartoon panels depict multiple stories, from the Mercury 13 and Women in Space Program, which dead-ends amid the U.S. race; to Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova%E2%80%99s milestone flight as the first female in space; and, finally, to the recruitment and training of American women astronauts, including Sally Ride, in the 1970s. Tying all of these stories together is the narrative voice, that of former U.S. astronaut Mary Cleave, whom the authors interviewed extensively. Her NASA training and two space shuttle missions are the focus of the book%E2%80%99s second half, and her character%E2%80%99s colloquial storytelling, humorous observations, and asides are highlights%E2%80%94Wicks and Ottaviani skillfully capture Cleave%E2%80%99s infectious enthusiasm up to the last page. Ages 9%E2%80%9313. (Feb.)