You wouldn't want to be on Apollo 13

Summary: Fun choice for FLL Jr and FLL teams, but a major miss on diversity.
Title: You wouldn't want to be on Apollo 13 (revised edition)
Author: Ian Graham
Publisher: Scholastic, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-531-23157-9

This is a fun book.  I know I've got a cross-age winner when I'm reading to my five year old and my eleven year old ends up parked on the couch next to us, listening.

The book tells the story of Apollo 13, relating the story with a good dollop of the funny and gross to keep the kids entertained (floating vomit, bags of urine, that sort of thing).  The art is a goofy, engaging, comic style.  At about 30 jam-packed pages, there's too much here for a read-aloud during a single team meeting, but it'd be a solid book to loan out to FLL Jr or FLL team members of any age.  (Reading level:  Guided Reading R, IG880L.)  There's a lot of science and history, with a big focus on what it was like to be a human in space, which could be very useful for teams this year.

So, now on to the problem:  Of course all the Apollo 13 astronauts are white men.  That's a fundamental challenge in teaching kids about early space travel.  You get lots of white men, and indeed the historical photos of mission control show a sea of white men.  But, given this book is illustrated, I found myself wishing the illustrator had snuck in a couple of women or minorities in the drawings of the ground crew and mission control.

Hidden Figures briefly mentions the participation of Katherine Johnson (a woman of color) in calculations of the lunar module return (in successful Apollo missions) and in a way to navigate without the computers that was used on Apollo 13.  A couple sidebars might have addressed the diversity issue.

If you have a recommendation for a kids' book that shows a little bit of diversity in early space history, please tell me!  I'm still looking....

One minor annoyance, unlikely to bother anyone but an adult scientist: it is clear that the person doing the conversions from km to miles didn't really think about significant figures.  For example: "On April 13th, Apollo 13 is 204,431 miles (329,000 km) away from Earth."  Yeah, no, that should be 204,000 miles.

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