Siblings Cash, Fitch, and Bird are each wrestling with their own struggles. Cash is trying to make sure he doesn’t fail seventh grade again. Fitch fights his own anger. And Bird wants only to go to space–if only to escape the world while carving her place in it. In addition to their individual struggles, their volatile home life weighs heavy on each of them.
Their teacher, Ms. Solonga, pushes her students to figuratively put themselves on the upcoming Challenger launch with a class simulation. She herself applied for the Teacher in Space program, and her enthusiasm wasn’t dimmed by not winning the spot. Bird latches on to the dream, idolizing astronaut Judith Resnick and dreaming of the day she would be on the shuttle. And then the worst happens.
I was a little young to remember much about the Challenger explosion, but this lovely book brought me back to the 80s, to wonderful teachers (I later had a high school teacher who had also applied for Teacher in Space, and who did an excellent space simulation project with us), and to big childhood dreams. A wonderful audiobook listen.
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Newbery Medalist and New York Times-bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly transports readers to 1986 and introduces them to the unforgettable Cash, Fitch, and Bird Thomas in this pitch-perfect middle grade novel about family, friendship, science, and exploration. A great choice for readers of Kate DiCamillo, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Rebecca Stead. Cash, Fitch, and Bird Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties. Cash, who loves basketball but has a newly broken wrist, is in danger of failing seventh grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing Major Havoc at the arcade on Main and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn’t understand. And Bird, his twelve-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA’s first female shuttle commander, but feels like she’s disappearing. The Thomas children exist in their own orbits, circling a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga. As the launch of the Challenger approaches, Ms. Salonga gives her students a project–they are separated into spacecraft crews and must create and complete a mission. When the fated day finally arrives, it changes all of their lives and brings them together in unexpected ways. Told in three alternating points of view, We Dream of Space is an unforgettable and thematically rich novel for middle grade readers. We Dream of Space is illustrated throughout by the author.