My students are really into inventing lately, filling my classroom with incredible oddities. For anyone who ever wished turtles came with more cuddly shells, please take note of Feel Good Turtle, lovingly built with pom poms and feathers. And if you want to house two distinct beverages in a single vessel, look no further than Double Decker Cup. Given sufficient time and tape the children will construct gecko-style feet and attempt to crawl up the walls. Thankfully they have not made it far, or I would struggle to explain my pedagogical choices on the inevitable accident report.
It was in the midst of this productive chaos that I came across Bonnie’s Rocket, written by Emeline Lee and illustrated by Alina Chau, and I immediately knew it needed a space in my classroom library. In this historical fiction picture book, launched earlier this fall by Lee & Low Books, Bonnie attempts to build a model rocket. Meanwhile, she misses her Baba, a NASA engineer who is away working on the Apollo 11 space mission.
This book deftly highlights the engineering process, from design to build, testing to analysis. Bonnie’s journey to building the perfect rocket is full of messes and mistakes that children will appreciate. But with each crashed tin can and exploding milk carton, Bonnie perfects her design. Along the way, she receives letters from Baba that contain advice and encouragement from one engineer to another, and by the time he comes home, Bonnie’s rocket is ready to soar.
The watercolor and digital illustrations are warm and cheerful as they show the ways that Bonnie’s work mirrors Baba’s. The back matter includes instructions for building a model rocket and an author’s note that highlights her grandfather’s NASA work as inspiration for the story.
This book will appeal to budding engineers, space enthusiasts, kids who make messes, and of course, their teachers.
Emeline Lee is generously offering a giveaway of Bonnie’s Rocket! To enter, simply comment below by November 21. For an extra entry, tweet this post and tag @sara_h_ackerman to be counted. U.S. domestic mailing addresses only, please. Thank you, Emeline, for this giveaway!