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Blast Off!: How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America Into Space

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The inspirational story of Mary Sherman Morgan, the world's first female rocket scientist, who overcame gender barriers and many failures to succeed. Growing up in the 1920s on a dirt-poor farm in North Dakota, Mary Sherman's life was filled with chores--until she finally began school and discovered she loved to learn. Mary excelled at science, especially chemistry, and The inspirational story of Mary Sherman Morgan, the world's first female rocket scientist, who overcame gender barriers and many failures to succeed. Growing up in the 1920s on a dirt-poor farm in North Dakota, Mary Sherman's life was filled with chores--until she finally began school and discovered she loved to learn. Mary excelled at science, especially chemistry, and leaped at the chance to work in a laboratory during World War II designing rocket fuels. And when the US decided to enter the space race, Mary was chosen over her male colleagues to create the fuel to launch a rocket carrying America's first satellite. With courage and perseverance, Mary's hard work and calculations paid off, opening up a brand-new frontier for exploration. This STEM biography of an unsung and courageous woman in science will inspire and motivate young readers.


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The inspirational story of Mary Sherman Morgan, the world's first female rocket scientist, who overcame gender barriers and many failures to succeed. Growing up in the 1920s on a dirt-poor farm in North Dakota, Mary Sherman's life was filled with chores--until she finally began school and discovered she loved to learn. Mary excelled at science, especially chemistry, and The inspirational story of Mary Sherman Morgan, the world's first female rocket scientist, who overcame gender barriers and many failures to succeed. Growing up in the 1920s on a dirt-poor farm in North Dakota, Mary Sherman's life was filled with chores--until she finally began school and discovered she loved to learn. Mary excelled at science, especially chemistry, and leaped at the chance to work in a laboratory during World War II designing rocket fuels. And when the US decided to enter the space race, Mary was chosen over her male colleagues to create the fuel to launch a rocket carrying America's first satellite. With courage and perseverance, Mary's hard work and calculations paid off, opening up a brand-new frontier for exploration. This STEM biography of an unsung and courageous woman in science will inspire and motivate young readers.

30 review for Blast Off!: How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America Into Space

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Caupp

    A great true story about a girl who was determined to follow her passion even if it went against expectations and met resistance. Interesting read for anyone with and interest in chemistry and lesser known women in science.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Panda Incognito

    I absolutely love the vivid, vibrant illustrations in this picture book biography. The style is very unique, and the artist's work conveys Sherman's emotion well. The text is also very strong, and this little-known story of a woman's contribution to the Space Race will appeal to all ages. The author's note mentions that because it is very difficult to uncover information about this woman's life, she had to fictionalize some details and considers this to be historical fiction. At my library, this I absolutely love the vivid, vibrant illustrations in this picture book biography. The style is very unique, and the artist's work conveys Sherman's emotion well. The text is also very strong, and this little-known story of a woman's contribution to the Space Race will appeal to all ages. The author's note mentions that because it is very difficult to uncover information about this woman's life, she had to fictionalize some details and considers this to be historical fiction. At my library, this is shelved as a nonfiction biography. I wish that this had ben clearer sooner, and that she had indicated which parts she made up.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    4 1/2 stars. Spectacular, vibrant illustrations and exciting book design complement the compelling text. Mary Sherman was born into a hard working farm family and didn't even attend school until the sheriff showed up at her family's farm and demanded it. Keeping up with her chores while trying to catch up to kids who had been in school for years was a challenge, but Mary managed to do both and graduate valedictorian. Forced to drop out of college for lack of funds, she got a job at a wartime wea 4 1/2 stars. Spectacular, vibrant illustrations and exciting book design complement the compelling text. Mary Sherman was born into a hard working farm family and didn't even attend school until the sheriff showed up at her family's farm and demanded it. Keeping up with her chores while trying to catch up to kids who had been in school for years was a challenge, but Mary managed to do both and graduate valedictorian. Forced to drop out of college for lack of funds, she got a job at a wartime weapons factory, but when the male soldiers returned she had to find new work. Against all odds she talked her way into a job developing rocket fuel, eventually becoming the lead scientist developing the fuel for the launch of the first U.S. satellite, Explorer One. The author's note gives details about the difficulty of finding reliable research and fills in some details about Mary's personal life. While there is little of her voice in this book, Mary's determination, positive spirit and intelligence comes through in her actions and in the handsome and layered illustrations that are filled with both period detail and personality. Mary's fascination with chemistry and her problem solving skills come through clearly, as does the scientific necessity of trial and error. An inspiring read aloud or a great bedtime story for a child with a scientific bent. Back matter includes dates and details, more about the first satellite and its rocket, and a selected bibliography. Many thanks to NetGalley for an e-ARC in return for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Heather McC

    Celebrating an unknown heroine of the space race, the work of Mary Sherman Morgan influenced many male and female scientists.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Blast Off! How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled American Into Space, written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport, is an excellent uncovering of a woman whose contributions (like many women) have been overlooked for too long. The text is well written, informative, concise but not overly sparse, and does an excellent job conveying Morgan’s determination, her intellect and perseverance, the obstacles she had to overcome, and her achievements. One of my favorite aspects of the story is Blast Off! How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled American Into Space, written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport, is an excellent uncovering of a woman whose contributions (like many women) have been overlooked for too long. The text is well written, informative, concise but not overly sparse, and does an excellent job conveying Morgan’s determination, her intellect and perseverance, the obstacles she had to overcome, and her achievements. One of my favorite aspects of the story is how it doesn’t gloss over the way science works, which involves a lot of preparation via theory and calculation, followed often by a lot of failure in the experimental stages, and eventually (ideally) success. The illustrations are fantastic, vivid, detailed, richly colored but not cartoony or gaudily bright, and especially making excellent use of light and overlayed images. Comport also does a great job of capturing Morgan’s various emotions, as with her beaming smile as she solves a problem or her nervous clutching of a slide rule as she watches a launch attempt. The after-matter gives more details about her life, a timeline, more information about the early space program she was involved in, a small bibliography, and a few paragraphs about the author’s work on the book. Overall, it’s an excellent book that brings to light one of the far too many forgotten women (literally so, as one anecdote make clear, with a letter addressed to Morgan as “Dear Unknown Lady.” Strongly recommended. 4.5

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ainun Zahra

    Blast Off!: How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America Into Space exhibits sheer brilliance of three women in different professions: Mary Sherman (Obviously), Suzanne Slade and Sally W Comport. Mary Sherman, America's first female rocket scientist is a name of inspiration to countless young girls all over the world. At a time when the words 'Scientist' and 'Man' were practically synonyms, Mary dared to smash the gender barrier and pursued her love for Chemistry in a male dominated society. She had a Blast Off!: How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America Into Space exhibits sheer brilliance of three women in different professions: Mary Sherman (Obviously), Suzanne Slade and Sally W Comport. Mary Sherman, America's first female rocket scientist is a name of inspiration to countless young girls all over the world. At a time when the words 'Scientist' and 'Man' were practically synonyms, Mary dared to smash the gender barrier and pursued her love for Chemistry in a male dominated society. She had a bad start in life. Instead of sending her school, her family kept her close to carry out household chores. As a result, she was few years behind. The undaunted young woman graduated from high school as a valedictorian and fled from home to attend college. She went on to become the top scientist to work on a top secret project of creating the fuel to launch a rocket carrying America's first satellite into space. Her first few attempts met with failure resulting in criticism and soon her ability as a woman was being questioned. But the untiring perseverance and fierce determination of Mary was rewarded by success. I loved the book more than I imagined I would. It is a remarkable piece of work. Suzanne describes the powerful and inspiring tale with precision. The illustrations are captivating and portray various ranges of emotions perfectly. It provides informative details without being overbearing and evokes long lasting and strong emotions throughout the book. Definitely recommended! Deepest gratitude to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange of honest and unbiased opinion.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Like Hidden Figures, this is another story of a woman that is forgotten about by the space community because, well, she was a woman. In fact, the author had so much trouble finding out this *very* important woman, that she almost gave up, but then she thought she would just keep going, and see what she could find. Before Mary Sherman Morgan designed the fuel for the rockets that took satellites into space, they kept blowing up on launch. She had to finally figure out just the right mix of fuels t Like Hidden Figures, this is another story of a woman that is forgotten about by the space community because, well, she was a woman. In fact, the author had so much trouble finding out this *very* important woman, that she almost gave up, but then she thought she would just keep going, and see what she could find. Before Mary Sherman Morgan designed the fuel for the rockets that took satellites into space, they kept blowing up on launch. She had to finally figure out just the right mix of fuels to get it to work, and work well. Amazing woman, she started school when she was eight, because her parents wanted her to work on the farm. It wasn’t until a sheriff came and forced the family to send her to school that she went. She financed her time in college, until she ran out of money and had to take a job to survive, but fortunately it was in science, and from there she was able to work her way up to working for North American Aviation. Even though this is just a picture book, I would highly recommend checking it out, and reading her story. Her son, Gorget D. Morgan, also wrote a book about her, which is mentioned in the bibliography called “Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America’s First Female Rocket Scientist”. But, as the author points out, even Wernher von Braun didn’t know her name, and sent her a letter of gratitude which began “Dear Unknown Lady”. Highly recommend this one. Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amy Robertson

    Written as a historical fiction, Blast Off! Is the story of scientist Mary Sherman Morgan. Mary is credited as developing the fuel that first launched satellites into space. Mary's research spanned the 1950's and many believed her work should be handed over to a man. Even with multiple launch failures, Mary did not give up. In 1958, powered by Mary’s hydyne fuel , the Juno I launched as America’s first satellite into the Earth's orbit. The premise of this book is wonderful. Learning about women in Written as a historical fiction, Blast Off! Is the story of scientist Mary Sherman Morgan. Mary is credited as developing the fuel that first launched satellites into space. Mary's research spanned the 1950's and many believed her work should be handed over to a man. Even with multiple launch failures, Mary did not give up. In 1958, powered by Mary’s hydyne fuel , the Juno I launched as America’s first satellite into the Earth's orbit. The premise of this book is wonderful. Learning about women in science is always intriguing and inspiring. This I would most likely read with my 3rd graders. My only negative comment relates to the book format. The timeliness are not always orderly and I see duplicate,, but scattered, entries about the same events. The story does not flow well. Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review Blast Off! In exchange for my honest opinion. #blastoff #Netgalley

  9. 4 out of 5

    Angie Bridget

    Blast Off! is a children's picture book biography of Mary Sherman, a female chemist who created the fuel to launch rockets into space! With her love of science, during WWII she was able to get a job in a lab designing rocket fuels, but when the men came back from war her job no longer existed. At a time when popular belief was that science was for men Mary persevered against adversity and it paid off. As a Grade 3 teacher, I could definitely see this book in my classroom library. I think it woul Blast Off! is a children's picture book biography of Mary Sherman, a female chemist who created the fuel to launch rockets into space! With her love of science, during WWII she was able to get a job in a lab designing rocket fuels, but when the men came back from war her job no longer existed. At a time when popular belief was that science was for men Mary persevered against adversity and it paid off. As a Grade 3 teacher, I could definitely see this book in my classroom library. I think it would be a great opening for lessons on STEM, growth mindset and biographies. I would recommend this book for teachers, librarians and families of children in the 4-12 age range, especially for young readers who could benefit from reading books about strong, female role models. I so appreciate Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review this great book!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Theediscerning

    A fine addition to school libraries, this asks us to add one Mary Morgan to the list of history's lost women. Forget the human computers of "Hidden Figures" – actually, never do that, but add Morgan's name alongside them, for she was risked at a chemical plant having proven herself in the war effort, and became the top scientist able to work out the best fuel for the burgeoning US space programme. Nobody knew how to fire von Braun's rockets, with America's first satellite, to orbit – until she m A fine addition to school libraries, this asks us to add one Mary Morgan to the list of history's lost women. Forget the human computers of "Hidden Figures" – actually, never do that, but add Morgan's name alongside them, for she was risked at a chemical plant having proven herself in the war effort, and became the top scientist able to work out the best fuel for the burgeoning US space programme. Nobody knew how to fire von Braun's rockets, with America's first satellite, to orbit – until she managed to come up with the goods. It seems she was soon to choose motherhood instead of that career, but there's no doubt this is a woman to whom many owe a lot, so this is a most suitable corrective to the Mary Morgan-shaped lapse in the history books.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Blast Off! tells the inspiring story of a woman who had so many chores to do as a child that she wasn't permitted to attend school until the authorities forced her parents to allow her to do so. Morgan was the valedictorian of her class and she was able to study chemistry at college for two years until her money ran out. Then she sought employment as a chemist despite her lack of a four-year degree and despite the fact that only men were employed as chemists. She soon became the best chemist on Blast Off! tells the inspiring story of a woman who had so many chores to do as a child that she wasn't permitted to attend school until the authorities forced her parents to allow her to do so. Morgan was the valedictorian of her class and she was able to study chemistry at college for two years until her money ran out. Then she sought employment as a chemist despite her lack of a four-year degree and despite the fact that only men were employed as chemists. She soon became the best chemist on staff, with a specialty in fuels, and it was she that the government came to when they needed a rocket fuel to launch the first American satellite into space. A riveting story, with illustrations that add to the text.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    What an amazingly wonderful biography. This book is about Mary Sherman Morgan and how she helped get America’s first satellite into space. She was just a country girl who loved chemistry and loved fuels. Without her hard work we could be very behind right now and maybe Neil Armstrong would not have been the first person to walk on the moon. One of my favorite things about this story is it is 100% about her. Within the story component it never mentions her marriage or her kids because they are se What an amazingly wonderful biography. This book is about Mary Sherman Morgan and how she helped get America’s first satellite into space. She was just a country girl who loved chemistry and loved fuels. Without her hard work we could be very behind right now and maybe Neil Armstrong would not have been the first person to walk on the moon. One of my favorite things about this story is it is 100% about her. Within the story component it never mentions her marriage or her kids because they are secondary to what she accomplished for science. There is a tad bit about Mary‘s husband and her son in the info bits in the back and it was just the right amount. Overall this is an excellent book and another great read from Suzanne Slade.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I am continually amazed at the things I learn from books written by children. We aren’t taught the stories of these phenomenal women in school. I had no idea that a woman invented the fuel combination that led to the first successful American launch of a satellite into space. And that’s something I think EVERYONE should know. We know the names of the first astronauts in space but not the name of the woman who made it possible for them to get there? This book was informative, engaging, and beautif I am continually amazed at the things I learn from books written by children. We aren’t taught the stories of these phenomenal women in school. I had no idea that a woman invented the fuel combination that led to the first successful American launch of a satellite into space. And that’s something I think EVERYONE should know. We know the names of the first astronauts in space but not the name of the woman who made it possible for them to get there? This book was informative, engaging, and beautifully illustrated. Add it to the stack of books my kids will have in their bedroom libraries! Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sam - Read & Buried

    Blast Off! tells the often-untold story of Mary Sherman Morgan's development of rocket fuel. Perfect for those interested in women in STEM - or those with children who have a fascination with space travel - Slade keeps the story focused on Morgan's work and the importance of perseverance. The illustrations are beautiful and suit the time and story well, making it a great addition to any educational picture book collection. Thank you to the publisher and Goodreads Giveaways for providing a copy f Blast Off! tells the often-untold story of Mary Sherman Morgan's development of rocket fuel. Perfect for those interested in women in STEM - or those with children who have a fascination with space travel - Slade keeps the story focused on Morgan's work and the importance of perseverance. The illustrations are beautiful and suit the time and story well, making it a great addition to any educational picture book collection. Thank you to the publisher and Goodreads Giveaways for providing a copy for review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kelle

    This is an amazingly written and well researched book about one woman’s contribution to the space race. Beautiful pictures tell the story of Mary Sherman, who helped launch America into outer space. Story follows Mary through childhood to her career at the organization that would become NASA. Mary is a tenacious woman, who is determined to persevere and prove that women are just as capable as men in the scientific fields. The graphics are engaging and the writing is too! I would love to incorpor This is an amazingly written and well researched book about one woman’s contribution to the space race. Beautiful pictures tell the story of Mary Sherman, who helped launch America into outer space. Story follows Mary through childhood to her career at the organization that would become NASA. Mary is a tenacious woman, who is determined to persevere and prove that women are just as capable as men in the scientific fields. The graphics are engaging and the writing is too! I would love to incorporate this book in my classroom lessons!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emma Filbrun

    This book is put together very well. I really liked the clear, concise text which told a very interesting story, as well as the amazingly detailed pictures that includes a lot of chemical formulas to help give the flavor of Mary's life work. I also appreciated the biographical pages in the back, which give a more in-depth look at her life, for older readers. This is a book that all ages can enjoy. I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it. This book is put together very well. I really liked the clear, concise text which told a very interesting story, as well as the amazingly detailed pictures that includes a lot of chemical formulas to help give the flavor of Mary's life work. I also appreciated the biographical pages in the back, which give a more in-depth look at her life, for older readers. This is a book that all ages can enjoy. I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Benita

    Wow, beautiful illustrations! That was the first that caught my eye opening this book. I couldn’t wait to dive into this book, and it was really interesting to read! The book is about Mary Sherman Morgan who was the world’s first rocket scientist—a woman in science. If you are a fan of space and everything about it, this is for you. 5/5 I got this book for free from netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Raven Black

    Another unsung hero who made it possible to touch the stars. Mary Morgan was a girl who at age eight could not read/write. By the time she was an adult she was doing chemistry, making fuels for rockets and barely had a college education. She wasn't going to let "doing chores" hold her back, and she wasn't going to let the men tell her science wasn't for women. She was going to get things done! Fantastic story complimented by strong illustrations. Another unsung hero who made it possible to touch the stars. Mary Morgan was a girl who at age eight could not read/write. By the time she was an adult she was doing chemistry, making fuels for rockets and barely had a college education. She wasn't going to let "doing chores" hold her back, and she wasn't going to let the men tell her science wasn't for women. She was going to get things done! Fantastic story complimented by strong illustrations.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Honey

    The ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Blast Off! is a wonderful example of a story finally being told. Well researched and written, this book beautifully captures the hard work and passion of Mary Sherman Morgan, a chemist looked down on for her sex. Children will love looking at the bright illustrations while learning about an incredible woman and her role in bringing about space travel.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emilee (emileereadsbooks)

    Thanks to Netgalley and Calkins Creek for a free digital copy. A wonderful book about Mary Sherman Morgan and her breaking the glass ceiling as a woman in the space industry enabling American to "blast off" into space. I thought it was the right balance of informative and entertaining with great illustrations. Thanks to Netgalley and Calkins Creek for a free digital copy. A wonderful book about Mary Sherman Morgan and her breaking the glass ceiling as a woman in the space industry enabling American to "blast off" into space. I thought it was the right balance of informative and entertaining with great illustrations.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Dobrez

    Another inspiring space story for STEM units with fabulous illustrations that are infused with numbers, math equations, rocket structures, slide rules, and communications. I also appreciate the author's note in the back explaining the difficulty with researching this subject and why it is published as historical fiction despite the facts that fill the pages. Another inspiring space story for STEM units with fabulous illustrations that are infused with numbers, math equations, rocket structures, slide rules, and communications. I also appreciate the author's note in the back explaining the difficulty with researching this subject and why it is published as historical fiction despite the facts that fill the pages.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    A stellar biography of Mary Sherman, the US' first female rocket scientist and pivotal player in the Space Race. Wonderfully illustrated and inspirational, this book would make a fabulous addition to any classroom and school library. Abridged biography, timeline, and further information on the space program's early rockets. Bibliography provides sources for further reading. A stellar biography of Mary Sherman, the US' first female rocket scientist and pivotal player in the Space Race. Wonderfully illustrated and inspirational, this book would make a fabulous addition to any classroom and school library. Abridged biography, timeline, and further information on the space program's early rockets. Bibliography provides sources for further reading.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sonya

    Amazing. I have been to NASA and love all things space, but I had never heard of her. I love it when the women who have had such a profound impact on this country get their stories told. The artwork was beautiful, and the story was inspiring. Hopefully, it drives young people to pursue more scientific fields and know that women deserve to be there and have always been there.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    What a great non fiction picture book! I love seeing women in STEAM, it encourages more girls that science and science careers are for everyone. My favorite thing is that it showed her failing, and not giving up. Failure is a part of discovery and learning. Mary didn't give up and because of that, a rocket took a satellite up into space. What a great non fiction picture book! I love seeing women in STEAM, it encourages more girls that science and science careers are for everyone. My favorite thing is that it showed her failing, and not giving up. Failure is a part of discovery and learning. Mary didn't give up and because of that, a rocket took a satellite up into space.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    Biography of Mary Sherman Morgan for elementary level. Readers see her life from childhood through developing the fuel to launch the first satellite. Slade shares her struggles with gender bias and to move away from her family's needs. Further information is provided at the end of the book for more study. The illustrations capture the challenges and joys throughout her life. Biography of Mary Sherman Morgan for elementary level. Readers see her life from childhood through developing the fuel to launch the first satellite. Slade shares her struggles with gender bias and to move away from her family's needs. Further information is provided at the end of the book for more study. The illustrations capture the challenges and joys throughout her life.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This could be a good Rise title. The artwork is muddy and dark for no purpose that I can discern and I like that the author is an engineer. Back matter includes timeline, sources, author's note, and details on some of the relevant rockets. This could be a good Rise title. The artwork is muddy and dark for no purpose that I can discern and I like that the author is an engineer. Back matter includes timeline, sources, author's note, and details on some of the relevant rockets.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pat Knight

    I had never heard of Mary Sherman Morgan. But her story is an inspiring story. Coming from humble beginnings, she becomes the first female rocket scientist. It is beautifully illustrated by Sally Wern Comport.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lee

    Thanks to Calkins Creek for the review copy! Blog review to follow.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kellee Moye

    It makes me both sad and excited when I learn about a new marginalized person from history that changed our world yet has not had the opportunity to be known. Mary Sherman was the first female rocket scientist and changed the history of her profession. I am so glad I got to learn about her in this beautiful book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Selma Flores

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