A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Erin Entrada Kelly's We Dream of Space won a 2021 Newbery Honor. It's a captivating and heartfelt middle-grade novel about family, friendship, communication, science, and the Challenger tragedy. Readers will learn about the explosion of the space shuttle minutes after takeoff, and the author includes details in the back of the book about the astronauts and civilians who were aboard, plus links to resources for more information. Bullying and name-calling are significant parts of the story. One character is always angry and sometimes has outbursts, including calling another student a "stupid fat cow" in front of the entire class. Mild insults are used repeatedly and include "stupid," "idiot," "moron," "jerk," "dork," "craphole," and "Jesus." The Thomas parents always argue in front of their kids, and their swear words are marked as [expletive] instead of entirely written out.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
WE DREAM OF SPACE follows the Thomas kids -- 13-year-old Cash and 12-year-old twins Fitch and Bird -- during the weeks leading up to the Challenger space shuttle launch in January 1986. Cash loves basketball but is on the brink of failing seventh grade again. Fitch loves video games and has trouble controlling his temper. Bird dreams of becoming NASA's first female shuttle commander, but her mom only talks to her about dieting. Their parents are always fighting, and Bird often feels responsible for keeping her family together. The Thomas siblings have always faced their problems alone, but when the Challenger disaster occurs, they'll have to come together and learn how to support one another.
Is it any good?
Erin Entrada Kelly has created a captivating and heartfelt tale of family, friendship, and communication. Set in January 1986 and told in three alternating points of view, We Dream of Space follows Cash, Fitch, and Bird as they face their problems and feelings of inadequacy plus how they cope with their parents' constant fighting. Not only will kids see how words can tear people down or build them up, but they'll also see how easy it is for the Thomas kids, especially Fitch, to model their parents' toxic behavior. It can be gut-wrenching to see how desperately the Thomas siblings want to be accepted by their peers and parents, but readers will root for Cash, Fitch, and Bird as they learn from their mistakes, make amends, and come together to support one another.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how We Dream of Space deals with bullying. How does this issue affect Cash, Fitch, and Bird?
What kinds of details show that We Dream of Space is taking place in a different time from our own? What do you like about reading historical fiction?
Did you know about the Challenger disaster before you read this book? Do you think it should be more widely discussed in school?
Check out these websites, apps, games, books, and TV shows to spark kids' interest in STEM topics and careers.
- Author: Erin Entrada Kelly
- Illustrator: Erin Entrada Kelly
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: STEM, Brothers and Sisters, History, Middle School, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Greenwillow Books
- Publication date: May 5, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: January 25, 2021
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