The Boy Who Touched the Stars / El Niño Que Alcanzó las Estrellas

Book review by
Monica Encarnacion, Common Sense Media
The Boy Who Touched the Stars / El Niño Que Alcanzó las Estrellas Book Poster Image
Inspiring memoir of migrants' son who became astronaut.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids learn what it takes to become an astronaut and a bit about the type of work that astronauts do.

Positive Messages

Work hard, reach for the stars, never give up!

Positive Role Models & Representations

Story is based on life of former astronaut José M. Hernández, a U.S.-born son of migrant farmworkers who, despite challenges and disappointments, achieved his lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Boy Who Touched the Stars / El Niño Que Alcanzó las Estrellas, by José M. Hernández, is an inspiring English/Spanish memoir of a United States-born son of migrant farmworkers who dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Each page is beautifully illustrated by Steven James Petruccio and tells the story of how the author achieved his dream through dedication, hard work, and perseverance.

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What's the story?

THE BOY WHO TOUCHED THE STARS / EL NIÑO QUE ALCANZÓ LAS ESTRELLAS is the story of José, a U.S.-born son of migrant farmworkers, who didn't speak English until he was 12 but swore he'd realize his dream of becoming an astronaut. With the support of his Mexican parents, he followed their special recipe for success: "Identify your goal, determine how far you are from achieving it, and create a plan to reach it. Then, do well in school and work hard." José added his own secret ingredient to that recipe: "Never ever give up!" After earning degrees in electrical engineering, José applied to NASA and was rejected -- 11 times. To better his chances of entering the program, José became a pilot, was certified as a scuba diver, and learned Russian. NASA finally accepted his 12th application, and he became an astronaut, blasting off into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery and working at the International Space Station.

Is it any good?

Author José M. Hernández's inspirational story captures the important, life-changing power of having a goal and the will to achieve it. Hernández's descriptive narrative beautifully tells his childhood story of working the fields of California's Central Valley with his family by day and staring up at the stars by night, dreaming up the impossible dream: to become an astronaut. Steven James Petruccio's colorful, detailed illustrations bring this amazing adventure to life. The Boy Who Touched the Stars / El Niño Que Alcanzó las Estrellas is an excellent story for kids and families to read together in two languages. Hernández closes his story by encouraging young kids to pursue their own dreams and asking young readers, "Which stars do you want to touch?"

At the end of the book, you'll also find brief bios in Spanish and English for both Hernández and Petruccio.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what kids want to be when they grow up. Just like the main character in The Boy Who Touched the Stars / El Niño Que Alcanzó las Estrellas, you may have big dreams. What are your dreams for the future? What are your goals? What job do you see yourself doing when you grow up?

  • What kinds of challenges did José face throughout his life? How did he overcome them? What challenges do you face? What's something that's hard for you to learn? What can you do to overcome that challenge?

  • What are some goals that you have? What steps can you take to achieve your goals? Why is it important to work hard in school?

Book details

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For kids who love biographies and bilingual stories

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