Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream

by Tanya Lee Stone Degree in English from Oberlin College

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Overview

They had the right stuff. They defied the prejudices of the time. And they blazed a trail for generations of women to follow.

What does it take to be an astronaut? Excellence at flying, courage, intelligence, resistance to stress, top physical shape -- any checklist would include these. But when America created NASA in 1958, there was another unspoken rule: you had to be a man. Here is the tale of thirteen women who proved that they were not only as tough as the toughest man but also brave enough to challenge the government. They were blocked by prejudice, jealousy, and the scrawled note of one of the most powerful men in Washington. But even though the Mercury 13 women did not make it into space, they did not lose, for their example empowered young women to take their place in the sky, piloting jets and commanding space capsules. ALMOST ASTRONAUTS is the story of thirteen true pioneers of the space age.
Back matter includes an author’s note, an appendix, further reading, a bibliography, sources, source notes, and an index.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763656096
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 09/27/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 1,004,797
File size: 11 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range: 10 Years

About the Author

Tanya Lee Stone is a former editor and award-winning author who often writes about strong women. She has garnered starred reviews and other accolades for books such as Up Close: Ella Fitzgerald and the highly popular Amelia Earhart. She lives in Vermont. Attending Texas Book Festival in November 08.

Tanya Lee Stone is the Robert F. Sibert Award–winning author of Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. Her latest book, Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles was a 2014 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist.



I grew up on the beach on Long Island Sound, so tide pools and jetties were my playground. I always read a ton of books, and would take out more than I could carry from the library on the weekends. My dad is a professor and writer and my mom was an elementary-school librarian, so books were everywhere in our house. My dad built me a kid-size reading loft only I could climb up to—I spent hours up there! In high school, I studied music at a performing arts high school. In college I was an English major at Oberlin, which gave me the perfect excuse to spend all my time reading and writing. And after college I was an editor until I moved to Vermont in 1996 and became a writer.


I love to write stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things and shine the light on their little-known stories. Change happens slowly, many times because people quietly push through barriers and move things forward until—bam!— someone else makes a big splash. But headline-makers often stand on the shoulders of those who first paved the way for them to follow. You can read about some of these trailblazers in my books Almost Astronauts and Courage Has No Color.

Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:

1. If I had to choose a different job, I would want to be on Broadway, singing in a musical!
2. I have climbed into a tank of harbor seals wearing thigh-high rubber boots in order to help a veterinarian give some friendly harbor seals an annual exam— all in the name of research.They are cute, but they will bite for food!
3. I have a mini-poodle named Barney who likes to climb in between my pillows when he naps during the day.

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Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
mrdarcy3 More than 1 year ago
Women were considered to be "cheaper" to send to space - but they couldn't pass the requirements to allow them into the program. There were several women who desperately wanted to be allowed into space. NASA refused. Men underwent strenuous testing that women couldn't possibly endure. Except that they did. With one man behind the idea - he tested Jerrie Cobb in secret. She knew that she had to be tough; she never complained and furthermore she excelled at the tests. Twenty-four other women were tested - half of them passed. But they were told by NASA and the government that women would not be accepted into the space program. For one reason: they did not preform the requirements. The requirement (waived for John Glenn) consisted of flying for the army - an option only available to men. NASA did not change the rule until 20 years later. By that time, it was too late for the Mercury 13 to pursue their dreams. But they watched other women lead men into space; it was both bittersweet and a long time coming. I had never heard of this story before; it was a real eye opener. I devoured this book. It was amazing. I've never been so interested in space before. I loved hearing about the secret cover-ups and shocking tales from NASA. The history combined with personal tales and dreams from the Mercury 13 made for a very powerful and emotional read ~ http://yabooknerd.blogspot.com/
ertreada on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was an interesting piece of history that I was unaware even existed. Well written and informative the author takes us to a time in the not so distant past, a time where women were pulsing the gender barrier and challenging the idea that men were the dominant gender. Jerri Cobb and her fellow female pilots proved through intense experimentation and testing that they were on par and even surpassed the scores of the all male astronaut corps. This book challenges the idea of social order and a woman's place in American society of the nineteen sixties. I found this book challenged many of my perviously held ideas and was shocked to see how my own perspective had changed after the birth of my daughter. I would never want her to grow up in a world where she was told she could not do something because of her gender. This book would be a great gift to any child boy or girl who is going through difficult challenges especially if they are being told not to pursue their dreams.
Michelle_Bales on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stone does a thorough job of uncovering what it was like for these groundbreaking women. Photographs take the reader back to the early days of women in aviation, through the 1960's space program and the rigors of astronaut testing, and to female astronauts today. Stone's meticulous research and quotes from personal interviews done by Stone herself reveal an inside look at these women's experiences that may not have been known widely until this book's publication. Stone's writing style is personable yet polished, almost like talking to a well-informed girlfriend.
mrcmyoung on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the 1960s, thirteen women undergo the same training and testing to prove they are just as qualified, maybe more so, to be astronauts as their male counterparts. Sexism within NASA, jealousy, and even LBJ work together to keep their dream from becoming a reality. A book that demonstrates the best and the worst of human nature all within the same time period. These women never made it into space, put they paved the way for those who follow and their story is a valuable lesson for young readers who might not be able to imagine a time when sexism was so blatant and accepted.
cdrake on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a well-told biography of 13 women who paved the way for women astronauts in the United States. Tanya Lee Stone tells this chronological story in a manner that has the reader yearning for more. Furthermore, she provides much evidence of her research through the appendixes, biographical sources, source notes, and further reading sections.
ChloePalmer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this wonderful book about the journeys of thirteen women who "Dared to Dream" and became pioneers leading the way for future generations of women interested in aeronautics. The book makes the stories of each woman come alive as it details their personal and professional lives. I really found the chapter about the tests each woman endured to become an a candidate for NASA.
NathanielLouisWood on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tanya Stone weaves the story of the first women to make the case for women astronauts. This book is a well researched and well written. Stone works through all of the obstacles that the "Mercury 13" faced, and the ones which ultimately bared them from becoming astronauts, but as Stone says this is not the end of their story. These 13 women paved the way for those that would follow them and successfully enter the space program and eventually fly space shuttles. One area that I would have like to have been expanded on is the way that social mores about gender roles colored public perception.
DustinB1983 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Almost Astronauts¿ is the story of 13 women who sought to become Astronauts in the 1960¿s, a time when we are involved in a ¿space-race¿ and long before any woman would. While a nation¿s space program was carving out new frontiers, these women were doing their best to break down barriers. Already some of the most talented pilots, rivaling and exceeding their male counterparts, they wanted to prove they could explore space with the best of them. Led by Jerrie Cobb and with the help of Randolph Lovelace, they prove through rigorous testing that they are capable of being astronauts. They were ahead of their time ¿ perhaps too far ahead. Despite the proven ability, and even the apparent advantages of utilizing women in space, they were met with resistance typical of the time. And even though they were not able to make it out of the atmosphere, the Mercury 13 paved the way for the women that came after them. This is an interesting story and one of which studens may not be aware. Even though most of the book holds the readers attention, the author does tend to drone of the testing faced by the women and could of summed this up in fewer words. This book contains some important lessons for the youngsters. It brings the reader back to a time when mainstream attitudes about women were much different; even many women bought into it. Though today there are still some examples of unfortunate thoughts on women (Rush Limbaugh), when placed in a more contemporary context, the attitudes of people like John Glenn or Lyndon Johnson would seem politically incorrect or even shocking. Just as our nation as come a long way on race relations, we have come a long way on gender relations. Just the same, there is so much room for improvement on both fronts. These women show the same kind of resilience and motivation that we see from the civil rights demonstrators at the time. The author tells this story in a way that makes the reader aware that the struggle for equal rights is a long, hard fight, often relying on incremental changes and moral victories on the way to achieving the ultimate goal.
Jenpark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book tells the story of the first women who tried to become astronauts. There story is largely unknown.
chelsea6273 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Written by Tanya Lee Stone, "Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream" is an interesting book about women's roles in the 1960s space race. Stone did a decent amount of research for this book, making it a reliable source on the topic.I would recommend this book to others because it is not-your-average story about success following a struggle. The women did not make it into space, but they did contribute to the fact that other women are now allowed in outer space. Students, especially in middle and high school, need to be shown stories, films, etc., about people who are passionate about something--so passionate that they dedicate their lives to that cause. And even though they did not get to go into space in the 60s, their cause was not lost; today women are allowed to be astronauts, scientists, doctors, etc. The physical layout of the book, which is neatly and clearly organized, makes it easy to read. For example, there are a lot of blank spaces on pages so that it is easy for the reader to know the difference between text and captions. There are also some incredible photographs of the women and of outer space in this book.
amclellan0908 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stone explores the experiences of a group of unknown women--an elite group of 13 who endured the same rigorous testing as their male counterparts to prove that they were ready and capable to participate as astronauts at NASA. The blatant sexism of the day caused these women to endure harsh scrutiny, which the Mercury 7 were revered as American heroes. While the amount of names can make the text a little difficult to follow, the audience will have no problems identifying that these "almost astronauts" were just as valid candidates for the space program as their male counterparts, with several of the women scoring higher than the men of Mercury 7. Civil Rights issues come into play when the plug is pulled on researching women's capacity for space: if they let in women, then they have to let in all minority groups. Though these women did not achieve their final goal of space, they did pave the way for other generations of female astronauts. Stone's text would make a great companion piece in an American literature class for literature in the 1950s and 1960s; it would establish the cultural and historical contexts in which writers were working (it is shocking to see blatant racism and sexism at work). This could also be used a central text for a thematic nonfiction unit on discrimination and/or difficulty in an English I or English II course
kratzerliz23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Upon reading this book all of my female red flags surfaced concerning female discrimination in the work place. I believe this would be a great book to discuss this discrimination topic. As far as math is concerned I might be able develop math problems concerning how fast it takes to fly to the moon, etc. but it would take much preparation. It is a good book, but I would not use it in math.
wackermt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You begin Almost Astronauts already knowing how it ends, which means that the skill of Tanya Lee Stone is her ability to endear her reader to this story of failure while still keep you mesmerized wondering how these events will unfold. Her writing allows you to become attached to the character of Jerrie Cobb such that you cannot help but root for her inspite of knowing what will happen. Almost Astronauts is the story of the first women who volunteered to undergo the rigorous astronaut testing regiment of the original male astronauts, and were in the process of passing with more impressive marks, until they were stymied by bigotry and chance.I very much enjoyed her portrayal of Jackie Cochran, who was instrumental in ending the women's chances, but who she does not inherently villify, instead explaining her motivation and stressing the positive contributions she made.The other thing which most stuck out to me was Scott's rejection of inevitability in recounting the story. There were no excuses about 'product of their time' or 'right place, wrong time.' It is encouraging in its frustration with these events, and provides the reader with the conviction that although the trend has been for women to follow men in innovation, this is a trend about to fall by the wayside, and that real equality is in the foreseeable future.This is a book which should belong in the personal library of almost every classroom in any high school.
jenunes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women who Dared to Dream is a remarkable tale of women who were the pioneers for their age. Struggling in a society that still believed women belonged in the kitchen, these thirteen women dared to step up and speak out, fighting all odds to try and see women allowed into space. This book would be perfect for middle school or high school crowds, something to put into the hands of a girl looking to make her future in the sciences and mathematics, or even as pilots, all fields still desperately gender imbalanced. The book is filled with wonderful illustrations from each decade, beginning in black and white and slowly morphing into color as the years and technology progress. A wonderful book with a powerful message for girls growing up.
rmthoma2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn¿t think I would like this book but I did. The book talks about parts of astronauts and going into space that I have never heard of. In this book it tells you the things many women went through to get ready to go into space. Most of the women mentioned in the book never made it to outer space. I feel like the book is about the struggle they went through and how these women didn¿t give up. I would recommend this book to use in a class room just because these women didn¿t make it. I think it will show students not to give up because you pave the way for others behind you to have better chances then you did.
rwilliamson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a child of the 60s and 70s, I thought I knew the Space Program. However, I¿d never heard of the Mercury 13 women. This book was an interesting read and shows how far we¿ve come in such a short time. This book has many period photographs in black and white and color as well as copies of letters and other pertinent documents. It includes a table of contents, an index, a bibliography, suggestions for further reading, a list of the women¿s ¿astronaut test¿ results, and author¿s notes. The author refers to poems she wrote but was unable to include in the text. These are available on-line and would make a useful addition to a unit involving this book. This book would be useful in grades 6 up. It could be used in various subjects especially science and history. Perhaps it could be paired with books about the men of the Mercury program.
Chrisdier on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream¿ by Tanya Stone is a great book for a younger audience who is studying sexism in the wrong place, a problem still relevant today. I did not think of NASA to be an organization to discriminate, call me naïve, because I felt they were such a progressive institution trying to break the mold. I assumed the desire to win the space race would erase sexism, but that was not the case.This book is full of facts and tidbits that kept me turning the page. It also details what they had to go through in training, which highlights the determination of these women. Not only were they battling the necessary physical elements required for these occupations, but they were also battling the societal elements that told them this was not their place.I could sense students getting mad at the barriers set up by stubborn people who felt they were superior for unsubstantiated reasons. This book could frustrate many students as well, so I am pleased to see that it finishes the book with detailing the successful women in NASA starting from the 1970s and onward. However, it is important to recognize that these women might not have been where they are/were if it wasn¿t for the first pioneers that set out to break the mold.These 13 women were true pioneers and paved the way for other women to succeed not just at NASA, but in the workplace as a whole. Overall, this is a great book for students who are learning about discrimination against women. It could be used in any social studies class ranging from 5th grade to 12th grade really, and I can see some women orientated college classes using this book as well. The book is versatile and can be used by other subjects as well, including astronomy and the sciences.
JLCasanova on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book tells the story of the thirteen women who attempted to become a part of the Mercury Space Program. Due to sexual discrimination, women were not allowed to become astronauts during the 1960s. This book tells how these thirteen women faced grueling testing procedures and proved that women were just as strong as men. They helped pave the way for many other women to become part of the space program and to pursue their dreams. Math teachers can have their students create pie charts to show the ratio of men to women who worked in the different fields of flight and aeronautics. Science teachers can have students look at the weather and how it affects the launch of the space shuttle. They can also look at the testing done to prove that Jerrie Cobb was fit for space flight and discuss why these test were done. Students could also research the ¿Mercury 7¿. History teachers can use this book as introduction to discuss the Cold War against Russia or as introduction to Lyndon B. Johnson¿s role as president. Students could also discuss the typical roles of women during the 1960s and discuss what women were doing to fight for equality. English teachers can have students write a letter to NASA from the perspective of a woman or a man from the 1960s. This book is organized in chronological order with the exception of the first chapter, which is from a more recent perspective. Sixth through eighth grade students will be able to read the book easily, but high school students could also benefit from reading the book because of the subject matter. The book contains numerous photographs, both black and white and colored, that show the reader who these thirteen women are and the many different hardships they faced. It even shows a letter the Lyndon B. Johnson would not sign. The author does a great job of creating chapter titles by using quotes from within the chapter as titles. The book also contains a table of contents, author¿s notes, an appendix that list the women who passed the rigorous testing, who attempted the test, and who did not take the test, recommended further reading and websites, photo credits, and an index. She also lists her sources which are numerous. She was very thorough in her research. She even mentions in the author¿s note that she met with the thirteen women. This is an excellent source, and it is a great tool for encouraging female students to reach for the goals.
jamiesque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream is an account of the women who attempted to break barriers and make history in the arena of space aviation and exploration. The book opens in July of 1999 when the commander of the shuttle is Eileen Collins. How did she get there when so many eligible women before her had been denied? The remainder of the book ellaborates on the uphill battle women fought in order to achieve their dreams of space flight. The majority of the book moves chronologically, emunerating the trial, tribulations, systems and individuals that both impeded and aided these women in their quest. Roughly two-thirds of the way through, the aftermath of their individual struggles are relayed, as well as the social changes they instigated and the young women they influenced. The book nests the tale of the women astronauts in the context of achieving gender equality and maintains focus as it highlights past and present pioneers. The book includes photos that help contextualize the women and time in which the events take place. Telegrams, cartoons, and other important documents add validity and dimension. The author, Tanya Lee Stone, includes a webliography, many of the sites associated with reputable organizations. Stone also credits a plethora of books, articles and documents used in her research. Legitimacy is further added to the book in a forward by Margaret A. Weitekamp, the curator at the National Air and Space Museum in the Smithsonian Institute, who proudly recommend this book as a source on the topic.
smoore75 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Almost Astronauts tells the story of 13 brave women who dared to become part of America's space program in the 1960's. Called the "Mercury 13", they were put through the same rigorous testing as their male counterparts to see if they too had the "right stuff". The book focused mainly on the very first woman, Jerri Cobb, who managed to not only pass, but surpass a lot of the men's scores. Unfortunately, due to the timing, early 1960's (women weren't even allowed to rent a car), she and the others faced prejudice and were never able to take a flight into space. However, due to the trail they blazed, America has now excepted that women can and do perform as well as men in highly stressful situations. The book is illustrated with photographs and is so inspiring. I would certainly recommend to students and will have my daughter read it when she is older.
KeithMaddox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a tribute and a narrative describing 13 women who underwent the same training as the Mercury astronauts but were denied the chance to become astronauts themselves because of their gender. Afterward, it briefly describes the official involvement of women into the space program, beginning in the late 70's. Stone did much research, including interviews with some of the Mercury 13 where she obtained new information about the story. Her description of American culture and politics over the period of the 50's and 60's, and of the nature of the space program and becoming an astronaut, are succint and written in accessible language. In particular, she conveys the benefits of using women as atronauts forcefully and persuasively. However, I did find her tone to be a bit strident. While I do not expect a book on this topic to be completly unbiased, Stone's view of the issues this book deals with are more blatantly stated than I feel is necessary. I also feel that her discriptions of the unpleasantness of the tests these women underwent, as well as how well they did on them, is drawn-out and repetitive, and begins to lose its forcefulness. However, this book is clearly written, accessible, and engaging. It makes a convincing argument that this is a little-known story that ought to be better-known, and not just by female students interested in science and flying, but by most everyone. The part of the book that deals with women in space after NASA permitted them serves as an excellent summary of that information. An advanced middle-schooler could easily read this book, and I think most high schoolers would enjoy it, though hard work and creativity may be required to pull that off successfully. The book has a highly in-depth index, sources used, and further resources, as well as pictures and visual material, and Tanya Stone's involvement with several of the Mercury 13, makes this book an invaluable resource about that story.
laurenryates on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book by Tanya Lee Stone was a thorough look into the rigors that 13 female pilots went through to try and become the first females in the NASA astronaut program. These women not only faced the grueling tests that male astronauts went through, but also the criticism and doubt that the naysayers in the industry put them through. The women had to not only prove that they could do the job, but that they were good at it and justifiably better at it than their male counterparts. The book focuses closely on the trials of Jerri Cobb, who was the initial female tested. It tells her background in flying and also follows all of the tests she had to endure. The story is well written and easy to read, but sometimes it felt the author was repetitive in her opinions on what men thought of women. I do believe that children in middle school would really enjoy this book, especially girls. It is a very empowering story and shows that even though the women who were trying to become astronauts never succeeded themselves, but they did contribute tremendously to opening the doors for future generations. I believe this is a powerful lesson for young girls today.
cjohn64 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this book, but it had the improper use of the word gender in it. Also there is a part where the book uses gender when the proper citation would have the word sex instead. I love the book regardless. I think it could be used in science classes to help motivate girls into pursuing science careers. I also think the book could have a great place in a Sociology class. I will definitely be using the story and data about the Mercury 13 women¿s results in the Lovelace tests to help spurn debate in a Gender unit in a Sociology classroom.
jaisidore on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Almost Astronauts by Tanya Lee Stone is a book that details the journey of women who sought to be astronauts. This work details the pronounce gender discrimination of women during the mid 20th century. The organization of the work cleverly alludes to the expectations of a handful of women to journey into space by illustrating that women have the capacity to fit into untraditional roles. The group of women will come to be known as the Mercury 13, and although theirs endeavors did not allow them to become astronauts through NASA¿s space program, ultimately the work of these women paved the way for future generations of women to enter space.Stone outlines a wealth of information used to construct of this work. These sources of information provide educators the ability to introduce related materials and provide for differentiation (e.g., an honors course in a subject area). This Robert F Sibert Medal awarded book will be a great edition to the studies of history and science.
kharding on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was hard to put down! I was immediately drawn into the story by learning about the different tests that Jerri Cobb had to complete. These tests seemed so challenging that I couldn't imagine someone performing them without complaint. The author, Tanya Lee Stone frequently refers to studies that show that women can tolerate pain and isolation more than men. I think even more so than this factor, the women were successful in testing due to conviction. They were adamant on proving the capability of women- and with conviction people are able to achieve greater success, and likewise when proving yourself you must make an effort to be calm, and even-tempered. Men who had participated in the testing did not have the same challenges to face, and I believe it was due to their privilege that they were such complainers. This is just one example of the many issues that this book provoked me to think about while reading. While the scope of aviation is a narrow scope for discussing gender inequality in the 20th century, Stone's focus is actually much broader. Stone's vivid language and persistent questioning of male hierarchy makes this an excellent book. Photographs and examples of the women's experience make the story come alive, and make the reader want to be a part of the fight. While reading I felt very pessimistic because of the title "Almost Astronauts." As I read about their struggle I wanted to hope for a happy ending but knew that they would never make it to be astronauts. I was surprised to read the ending which highlighted women's success in aviation and space exploration in addition to women's rights on a broader scale. If I had the time to fit this book into my coursework I would definitely teach it!