”A is for Astronauts,” by Astronaut Clayton Anderson, illustrated by Scott Brundage, Sleeping Bear Press, 2018, ages 5-10, $16.99

Clayton Anderson covers the history of NASA and science, with fun poems for each letter, but includes expository text in the sidebar for more practical information for astronomy lovers.

In 1958, seven men were designated Mercury astronauts as the first Americans to venture into the unknown of outer space. They included M. Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Gus Grissom, Wally M. Schirra, Deke Slayton, and Alan B. Shepard. Perseverance might be the most important characteristic for an astronaut.

The early space shuttle was very small and could carry only one flyer, Alan Shepherd. They’re building huge rockets now that can carry a crew of eight astronauts. Each time they go into space they’re gathering enormous amounts of “Data for D” to learn for future travels.

When spaceships do a “flyby for F,” they pass as near as it’s safe to other objects so that they can use the pull of gravity to provide fuel (energy). The spaceship can be programmed to fly any “Inclination,” horizontally, vertically or something in between.

Just like at home sometimes the trash has to be thrown out, but very carefully, so as not to hit anything. Trash will burn up in the earth’s atmosphere.

K stands for John F. Kennedy, who was key to the development of our space program. He challenged the nation to put a man on the moon in 10 years.

M for meteor, O for oxygen, Quasar, Thrust, Voyager, all part of the astronauts lives are defined and explained. Yellow is for the light in the ship that’s indicative of caution inside the spaceship.

Anderson kept his audience on the edge of their seats with his life story and funny antics. No doubt his mantra is dream, persevere and succeed.

Sterling Municipal Library presented a real live astronaut in their Evening with the Author event. The large number in attendance included two children in space suits. The first 50 attendees were presented a free picture book. Everyone enjoyed Clayton Anderson’s presentation of his experiences and five months living on the space station. A book signing and pie followed.

JoAn Watson Martin is an educator.

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