Scott Kelly's 2.5 books.

Scott Kelly has two books out:  Endurance (for adults), and My Journey to the Stars (for little kids).  A young reader's edition of Endurance is in the works.

There are numerous reviews out there about Endurance, Scott Kelly's autobiography, so I'm going to focus mostly on (non)suitability for FLL.  For more a general review, check out this New York Times review.  For the kids' book, scroll on down!

Endurance includes many details about Scott Kelly's childhood, including how he was a poor student and didn't really figure out how to be successful until a couple years into college.  Briefly putting on my college prof hat, I can see it being a great book to read with freshmen.  There are also a bunch of details about life in space that were fascinating.  The past is interleaved with the time on the ISS.  I enjoyed Kelly's comparisons between the American and Russian way of doing things, cultural differences, and such.  In parts, he comes across as very jaded about Mission Control, and bits of the book feel pretty dark.  Some of these issues never really resolve in the book.  He's upset about the carbon dioxide levels on the ISS and that both CDRAs aren't running to fix it, but we learn that Mission Control has agreed to do something about it only in the epilogue's list of what he learned.  Several other narrative threads are similarly dropped.  That's just how life works, but it doesn't make for entirely satisfying reading.  I wanted him to have some epiphany about his life during the "present tense" time on the ISS, but that never really happens in the book.  It's more of a series of interesting vignettes.

So, on to the FLL-oriented part.  This review is of the regular book, NOT the young reader's edition (not due out until October 2018).  This regular book is going to be problematic for FLL-age kids. The F-bomb is dropped repeatedly.  There's also a fair amount of drinking, including some party-hard behavior, and many trips to bars.  Kelly is living with his girlfriend (when not in space), which may also be a problem for some more conservative families.  And there's a level of darker rumination and/or cynicism woven through the retelling of these amazing accomplishments.  As an adult, I'm going with "interesting, but not really heart-warming."  If you'd like to use an adult book with an FLL team, either Chris Hadfield's or Tim Peake's books look more suitable, and I've got reviews of those to follow.

I'll be updating this review in November, once I've had a chance to look at the young reader's edition of Endurance.  I suspect that by the time all the drinking and swearing is cut out, it'll be about the right length.  I'm not sure that the current interleaving will work for younger readers, so I'll be interested to see how much a rewrite it gets.  Stay tuned.

My Journey to the Stars is another book entirely.  This is a lovely picture book, a mix of illustration and vintage photos that tells Scott Kelly's autobiography story at a little kid level.  My almost-6 year old loved it, and we read it over and over until the library wanted it back. My almost-12 year old snuck in to listen a few times, too.  It's very well done, and I recommend it, but the target age range is about at the bottom of the FLL age range.  It'll be a great option for FLL Jr teams this season, either for reading aloud or independent reading.