Meet Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina Astronaut in outer space, Little Brown for Young Readers.
Illustrated by Oliver Dominguez.
Junior Literary Guild
“The latest entry in Rappaport’s “Big Words’’ series centers around Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina in space. Ochoa grew up in a home filled with music and a love for learning, a granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and a girl growing up in the 1960s. A career in the sciences wasn’t one that was easily accessible to her. But inspired by her mother, she excelled in school and fell in love with physics. After rigorous training and studies, the accomplished flutist and electrical engineer went on to become the first Latina in space. In accessible free verse, Rappaport details the hurdles that Ochoa had to overcome to reach her achievements. The author offers a thorough accounting of the subject’s life. It doesn’t stop at Ochoa’s first visit to space; it also details the three flights that followed, her appointment as the first Latinx of the Johnson Space Center, and her mission to educate kids about STEM careers. The text and illustrations combine to show Ochoa’s personality and passion for education, music, and her career. The majestic art is done in gouache, ink, color pencil, and pastel. The paintings are reminiscent of Norman Rockwell’s work and have incredible detail. Back matter includes author and illustrator notes, timeline, bibliography, and source notes. VERDICT An excellent picture book biography of a groundbreaking Latina that soars.” School Library Journal
“The writing is excellent: Essential aspects of astronaut qualifications, training, and experience are described in clear detail…. Brilliant, sure-handed gouache illustrations add even more vivid life to the well-paced text…. Brief quotations in a red font let us hear Ellen’s voice. Swaths of color, varied blues balancing bright orange-yellows, intensify the realistic images, and frequent changes of perspective and layout will hold readers’ attention A book sure to fly off shelves and into children’s hand.” Kirkus Reviews
“A flutist and physicist becomes the first Latina to visit space in Rappaport and Dominguez’s inspirational biography of Ellen Ochoa.” Publisher’s Weekly
“Rappaport’s informative text moves along at a good pace, and the illustrations—drawings painted with vibrant colors—are lively. The back matter offers a source bibliography as well as Rappaport’s thanks to Ochoa for her comments on the manuscript. A picture-book biography for tomorrow’s astronaut.” Booklist
“The text is informative and lively and features Ochoa’s own words, some of which are from interviews Rappaport did with the astronaut. She presents a well-rounded image of Ochoa’s life, ..Dominguez’s detailed paintings (also created with Ochoa’s input) give insight into Ochoa’s entire journey of becoming an astronaut. Pastel-hued scenes of Ochoa’s training and flights into space—in particular, a spread of her learning to parachute—radiate the joy which the astronaut approached her life’s pursuit.” The Horn Book
From the Author
What I loved about researching Elle Ochoa’s life was discovering her passion for learning and her determination to carve out a meaningful work life. Being an astronaut requires extraordinary concentration, commitment, time, and study. Finding a way to combine these requirements with family life is a most difficult challenge, even for women today, but Ellen managed to do it. I also admire that when she was in a position of power, she used it to encourage other women and Latinx people to follow their dreams.
From the Illustrator
I was extremely excited when I was asked to illustrate this project, as working on a book about NASA and space has long been a dream of mine. I began with my own research, visiting the library numerous times, taking a trip to the Kennedy Space Center I Florida, and even corresponding with the real Ellen Ochoa. Only when I had all the research and sketches finalized could I begin painting the artwork. For me, research is the most fun part, while drawing and painting come second.
ELLEN OCHOA IN HER OWN WORDS
The First Latina Astronaut, Ellen Ochoa Talks Legacy, You Tube on October 11, 2022
Ellen Ochoa: Making History in Space, Oct 11, 2019 on You Tube.