We Dream of Space Paperback – 5 May 2020
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“Newbery Award–winner Kelly follows three Delaware siblings in the weeks leading up to the January 1986 launch of the Challenger. . . . Kelly shows the incredible power of words—the irreparable damage they inflict and their ability to uplift—while crafting a captivating story about family’s enduring bonds.” -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Entrada Kelly tells the story . . . of Cash, Fitch and Bird . . . [and their] power to form the family they want themselves. Lyrical but direct writing, relatable characters, and an engaging 1980s setting give this thoughtful read high appeal for middle grade readers.” -- School Library Journal (starred review)
“With short chapters focusing alternately on each sibling, Kelly establishes distinct and original characters . . . Kelly creates a crisp, moving portrait of family dysfunction and the resilience of the young.” -- Horn Book (starred review)
“It’s January, 1986, and each of the three Nelson Thomas siblings has a focus. . . , Bird, who loves science and engineering and imagines nightly conversations with Challenger astronaut Judith Resnik . . . [is] the calm core of the novel, but readers in the know will feel the tension ramping up as the much-awaited launch date comes closer. . . . Newbery winner Kelly is particularly skillful in weaving the event into the lives of her characters . . . Perceptive.” -- Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“We Dream of Space offers an exceptional portrayal of the endless ways in which parental dysfunction affects every member of a family. It’s also a celebration of the need for optimism, compassion and teamwork in the face of disasters both individual and communal.” -- BookPage.com (starred review)
“Kelly writes a heartfelt story of family and the bond of siblings. . . . Put this book in your orbit.” -- Kirkus Reviews
“In this captivating follow-up to her Newbery Medal-winning “Hello, Universe,” Kelly . . . has a minimalist’s knack for gesturing beyond what’s on the page. . . . We Dream of Space moves gracefully between small-scale middle school dilemmas and galaxy-size existential questions, such as whether we should go into space at all. Bird, “just a girl in Park, Delaware,” can’t stop thinking about being a speck of cosmic dust. Thanks to exuberant Ms. Salonga, there’s lots of space lore in the novel. Notably, the characters most interested in science are female. . . . A hard-won, timeless lesson.” -- New York Times Book Review
“As the country awaits the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, three very different siblings—Cash, Fitch, and Bird—must navigate challenges of their own. . . . A 10 out of 10 . . . Anyone interested in science, sibling relationships, and friendships will enjoy reading We Dream of Space.” -- Time for Kids
“Kelly’s skill at mapping the bonds of family shine here—you’ll root for these three [characters] as they develop hard-won resilience.” -- Austin American-Statesman
"This moving book follows a family in January 1986 on the precipice of so much—siblings Bird, Fitch, and Cash are all in the same grade, and . . . the siblings are hanging on . . . through their shared science teacher. . . . This slice-of-life book is aching and hard, and when the Challenger launches, all of the pain built up in each of the siblings explodes. Readers who want feelings-heavy books will be enraptured with this one. All of the characters are compelling, complex, and sympathetic.” -- Book Riot
“25 children’s books your kids and teens won’t be able to put down this summer!"—A Today Show Pick -- Today Show
About the Author
New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly was awarded the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe and a Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space. She grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and now lives in Delaware. She is a professor of children’s literature in the graduate fiction and publishing programs at Rosemont College, where she earned her MFA, and is on the faculty at Hamline University. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction and the Pushcart Prize. Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut novel, Blackbird Fly, was a Kirkus Best Book, a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALSC Notable Book, and an Asian/Pacific American Literature Honor Book. She is also the author of The Land of Forgotten Girls, winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature; You Go First, a Spring 2018 Indie Next Pick; Lalani of the Distant Sea, an Indie Next Pick; and Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey, which she also illustrated. The author’s mother was the first in her family to immigrate to the United States from the Philippines, and she now lives in Cebu.
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- Publisher : Greenwillow Books (5 May 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0063026708
- ISBN-13 : 978-0063026704
- Reading age : 8 - 12 years
- Item Weight : 431 g
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 2.54 x 20.96 cm
- Country of Origin : USA
- Customer Reviews:
Top review from India
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Family Angle - The Nelson Thomas family is dysfunctional. 'Bird' (the daughter) who loves the internal workings of machines and draws their schematics, compares her family to a broken/barely functioning machine. The parents are constantly fighting with each other and the children draw into themselves. At an age where children need support and advice, these 3 siblings are pushed into even more confusion. The parents also (maybe unintentionally) give mixed advice - like Mrs Nelson Thomas wants her daughter to 'not feel the need to do all the house work' and be equal in that aspect, but at the same time she tells her to not eat junk food although she doesn't mind her sons eating the same.
Being a Teenager Angle - 'Bird' doesn't 'feel pretty' and that bothers her and doesn't bother her at the same time. 'Fitch' her twin brother spends all his time at the arcade and is not interested in girls especially the one who is being 'nice' to him. 'Cash' their older brother has failed and is now in the seventh grade with them. He idolizes a sports star but can't get on his school basketball team and feels like he is not good at anything.
Space Exploration Angle - Ms. Salonga (the teacher) gets her students excited about the Challenger Launch. (And 'Bird' really starts to dream of space.) Ms. Salonga arranges various space themed activities for the students and makes them think about the reasons why space should be explored. And this book asks the question - Is space exploration with all it's cost and risks worth it?
Towards the end when the Challenger explodes, 'Bird' feels the need to go into her friend's house to feel at home. I found it so sad that she couldn't get that feeling in her own house. This is one of the books where everything doesn't fall magically into place at the end but the book takes a direction that hints at a change in the characters for the better. I really like such endings as they seem more real.
Top reviews from other countries
The author has fashioned a colorless January of ennui endured by yet another dysfunctional family. They should have been wearing body cameras so you could see the blank expressions on their faces.
Surprisingly, the book has vacuumed up a number of writing prizes including recent selection as a Newbery Honor Book. Perhaps this is so because in this age of pandemic, insurrection, power outages, and vanishing jobs “We Dream of Space” is the closest thing to Mary Poppins in the New Normal.
The parents in the book are petty, frustrated, bickering and likely two high school graduation days away from divorce. Of the three siblings, one son lives on the edge of volcanic anger. The other son has the academic dynamism of a doorknob. The daughter at the center of the tale, is an emotionally frail dreamer skipping toward catastrophe.
As for the book’s structure, a few gratuitous vignettes add nothing to the story. For example, the author plops down a diversion about interracial marriage, then just leaves it there. In another throwaway, she has the young girl open the door of a classmate’s empty house and nap with the cat. Full stop.
The book also has factual polyps. On page 90, the middle school teacher tells the class to imagine themselves strapped to a rocket ready to launch from Houston. It would have to be imaginary since rockets are not launched from Houston.
Worse, on page 205 is a piece of dialogue where one sibling asks who Sally Ride is. The other sibling says: “The first woman in space.” That answer is wrong. The first woman in space is Valentina Tereshkova.
If after looking in on this hangdog collection of undistinguished characters (possibly excepting the teacher), a reader says “nothing happened,” that would be a more suitable title for this book.
Premise/plot: We Dream of Space is a middle grade coming of age novel set in January 1986 starring three siblings: Fitch, Bird, and Cash. The book is told from the perspective of all three siblings. Fitch is struggling with anger issues and feelings of shame. Bird is a big, big dreamer but is haunted by insecurity and anxiety. Cash, well, Cash also struggles with finding his place to belong, finding something he is good at; he struggles with worthlessness. The three siblings have so much in common--so so much--but they also share this a feeling of isolation and alone-ness. They seem unaware that their siblings are also struggling and just barely coping. Another thing all three have in common is their parents who always, always, always, always seems to be arguing, fighting, fussing, bickering, spatting, raging. The Nelson-Thomas home is not comfortable, cozy, safe. It's very much a Jekyl-and-Hyde home. (That's how Bird refers to her home).
The book deals with their lives at home and at school. The three siblings share one teacher--Ms. Salonga--though not all at the same time period. She is a science teacher, I believe, who is dedicating the whole month of January to space and space exploration. Bird, in particular, is thrilled with this focus. And she daydreams conversations with one of the astronauts, Judith Resnik.
It touches on issues of family dysfunction (in particular spousal verbal abuse, and perhaps a bit of neglect), bullying, self-esteem, body image, and friendship. (Not all friends are *good* or *good-for-you* friends. Some relationships are toxic.)
My thoughts: We Dream of Space won't satisfy every reader. It ends roughly around the first week of February 1986. There are no pretty little bows tied neatly. Cash hasn't transformed his grades or made the track team...yet. Fitch hasn't figured out how to make amends and reform his outbursts...yet. Bird hasn't made peace with the tragedy of the Challenger and "gotten over" her funk...yet. The parents' relationship hasn't miraculously improved 1010%. There have been no promises to change or acknowledgement that they are hurting each other and the children. But despite the lack of neatness in the bow-tying department, it stays true to life. Problems never resolve quickly and neatly. Not really.
It also won't satisfying the nit-pickiest of readers who will notice that the teacher talks of the shuttle launching from HOUSTON, TEXAS. (It should be Cape Canaveral, Florida). If that is the biggest issue you have with the book--that could perhaps be fixed before it goes into paperback or reprinting of a hardcover if this one should win awards.
The book offers an emotional roller coaster. The narrative is getting closer and closer and closer and closer to the EXPLOSION which provides its own tension. But that isn't the only tension--far from it. All the relationships in the book are a bit of a mess. This family needs help--an intervention. The home life is toxic and damaging.
For those that have--in the past--lived through this it could potentially be a trigger and hit a little too close to home. For those that have never lived through this, I would love to see this book trigger empathy and compassion. The truth is you never know what may be going on in the lives of your classmates. Teachers, you may not know what is going on in the lives of your students.
For those that are currently living through this--perhaps this book will help you feel not-alone, perhaps it will help you feel SEEN and HEARD.
The three kids--despite being in middle school--desperately needed DAILY TIME with Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood.
Bird is in the seventh grade as is her twin brother Fitch and her older brother Cash who failed seventh grade last year. Bird loves space and figuring out how machines work. Fitch loves arcade games and spends every quarter he can get his hands on at the local arcade. Cash loves basketball but can't make a basket to save his soul. He hasn't figured out exactly what he is good at yet.
One thing the three siblings can agree on is that their parents argue and fight all the time. The house is always a mess and everyone eats dinner anywhere but at the table. Bird wishes things were different, but her excitement about the Challenger launch is enough to keep her mind off the disappointments of home.
When the day finally arrives for the launch, Bird is in the auditorium with a select group of students whose winning essays have earned them a chance to watch the televised launch. Of course, things don't go the way Bird has imagined and her world is turned upside down. All her anticipation evaporates along with the space shuttle leaving Bird to rethink her hopes and dreams and how she will carry on.
WE DREAM OF SPACE by Erin Entrada Kelly explores the emotional impact of the loss of the Challenger on a school child eager to witness an exciting moment in the space program. Bird, Fitch and Cash are making the best of their often challenging family life as they discover what it means to be there for one another.
I remember the day vividly. As a teacher I had followed with excitement the fact that a teacher would be aboard the shuttle. Attending an education workshop, I watched the launch on television with a group of fellow teachers and will never forget the stunned silence that followed the explosion. Reading about Bird brought tears to my eyes as I imagined what it was like for millions of school children with dreams of being in space as they watched the tragedy.