Becoming a Spacewalker
My Journey to the Stars
Jerry L. Ross Susan G. Gunderson
Purdue University Press
This nonfiction picture book is a children's version of NASA astronaut Jerry L. Ross's autobiography, Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA's Record-Setting Frequent Flyer, designed for ages 7-12. Told in friendly first-person narration, it represents how Ross followed his dream from rural 1950s northern Indiana to Purdue University and then outer space.
The thirty-two-page book is illustrated with personal photos and memorabilia. It is formatted into twenty-three narratives organized in chronological order illustrating events and experiences in Ross's life. Pages attractively interweave photos and text while prompts encourage readers to engage in in the story.
Ross possessed specific character traits that helped him make choices and overcome obstacles as he struggled against the odds to realize his dream: curiosity, persistence, and believing in oneself. As the story unfolds and readers begin to make personal connections with Ross, his approach to problem solving and working through setbacks provides a powerful example for children.
Content area concepts are integrated throughout the story, including but not limited to science, technology, engineering, math, visual literacy, financial literacy, geography, flight, and the race to space. Gravity, for example, is a major theme illustrated within the content of the story. Online guides for teachers using the book in a classroom setting (third to fourth grade recommended) are linked to throughout.A map of the United States on the inside front cover invites children to follow the path of Ross's journey from Crown Point, Indiana, to Kennedy Space Center. A timeline on the inside back cover compares and contrasts benchmark events in Ross's life and career with important events in flight and space travel history. Further electronic materials are available at www.jerrylross.com.