|Challenger disaster : tragedy in the skies (History Comics)|
Author: Naujokaitis, Pranas T.
Introduces readers to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986. In graphic novel format.
Kirkus Reviews (09/15/20)
School Library Journal (+) (09/01/20)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 09/01/2020 Gr 4–6—A catastrophe that occurred in 1986 is ancient history to young people today, but Naujokaitis finds a way to make the Challenger explosion seem immediate by framing the story as a report delivered by a quartet of fifth graders (one boy is white, another boy is brown-skinned, the two girls are brown-skinned, and one of the girls wears a headscarf) living on an orbiting space platform in 2386. Using a mix of artifacts and virtual reality, the students tour the Challenger, "interview" each member of its last crew about their work and backgrounds, witness the shuttle's destruction shortly after launch (the teacher, who is white, wisely takes over narrative duties for this part), and follow maverick scientist/celebrity Richard Feynman as he battles NASA bureaucrats to lead an investigation into the causes of the explosion. In contrast to more conventional treatments of the incident, this title offers not only a distinct sense of each doomed astronaut's personality (Christa McAuliffe: "If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat. Just get on!") but also a broader understanding of what the tragedy can teach us about our determination to forge on exploring space. Cutaway views and close-ups of spacecraft parts enhance the more technical parts of the discourse, and in the cartoon-style sequential panels the students' natural-sounding dialogue and banter, along with their broad expressions of fascination, boredom, excitement, terror, and sadness, add life and drama to the tale. "We keep going!" as one student puts it in an eloquent summation. VERDICT Definitely a "go" for middle grade readers, artfully incorporating a solid payload of information within a well-developed frame story.—John Peters, Children's Literature Consultant, New York - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.