Mousetronaut: Based on a (Partially) True Story (Mousetronaut #1)

by Mark Kelly (Author) C F Payne (Illustrator)

Mousetronaut: Based on a (Partially) True Story (Mousetronaut #1)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Mousetronaut

A heartwarming picture book tale of the power of the small, from bestselling author and retired NASA astronaut Commander Mark Kelly.

Astronaut Mark Kelly flew with "mice-tronauts" on his first spaceflight aboard space shuttle Endeavour in 2001. Mousetronaut tells the story of a small mouse that wants nothing more than to travel to outer space. The little mouse works as hard as the bigger mice to show readiness for the mission . . . and is chosen for the flight! While in space, the astronauts are busy with their mission when disaster strikes--and only the smallest member of the crew can save the day. With lively illustrations by award-winning artist C. F. Payne, Mousetronaut is a charming tale of perseverance, courage, and the importance of the small!

A #1 New York Times bestseller

"This little mouse may well inspire some big dreams." --Kirkus Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews

This little mouse may well inspire some big dreams.

Publishers Weekly

In an afterword, former astronaut Kelly (who is also the husband of Gabrielle Giffords) recalls that on his first Endeavor flight, the research mice on board would have nothing to do with weightlessness and clung to the mesh of their cage for the entire mission--except one, "smaller than the rest, seemed to enjoy the experience and effortlessly floated around the cage." Inspired by this real-life mouse, Kelly's first children's book tells the story of Meteor, a lightly anthropomorphized rodent who turns his tininess into an advantage when an important key gets stuck in a crack between two monitors. The understated, quietly intense prose (" 'This isn't good, ' says the commander. 'We need that key back' ") is just right for the particular breed of hero that is the American astronaut, and the narrative stakes are just high enough for the younger end of the target audience. Payne (Hide-and-Squeak) contributes muscular, handsomely textured images and vivid portraits that make it absolutely clear that space travel is a larger-than-life adventure. Ages 4-8. Agent: Robert Barnett, Williams & Connolly. (Oct.)

Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 2--In this picture book based on the space shuttle Endeavor, mice are being trained alongside human astronauts and selected to accompany the 2001 mission. Meteor is one of the smallest mice, but the most hardworking. After the suspenseful liftoff, an irreplaceable key gets stuck between control panels, and he hurls into action to save the mission. The concise, energetic writing works in tandem with the highly detailed and expressive, softly crosshatched cartoon art. The tone of the story is celebratory, but also gives an authentic glimpse into daily life on a space shuttle. Close-ups of characters reveal humorous surprise or just pure glee. The astronauts dub Meteor with the title "Mousetronaut" due to his bravery and service. Librarians will want to share the inspiration for this tale included in the afterword, an informative essay on man's quest to overcome gravity and fly. Apparently, during the duration of the flight, only one of the 18 mice onboard the Endeavor playfully and contentedly floated in zero gravity. The rest clung to the cage. The values of being small, useful, solving problems, and working hard-as opposed to being big and strong-will inspire young readers. The bibliography is outstanding as is the kid-friendly list of Internet sources featuring sites with games and videos.--Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City

Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Here the mouse is headed in the opposite direction. This first children's book by Kelly, a retired astronaut and husband of former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, builds on his experience with real mice aboard the space shuttle Endeavour. Eighteen of them. In this winning story there are six, and as the smallest one, Meteor gets to perform his own special mission. After helping the astronauts out of a potential Apollo 13 calamity, Meteor is declared a hero—sure to please many fellow pipsqueaks back on Earth. — The New York Times Book Review
Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly has served as the junior US Senator from Arizona since 2020. He was a captain in the United States Navy when he commanded the final mission of space shuttle Endeavour in May 2011. A veteran of four space flights to the International Space Station, he is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy and holds a master's degree from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

C. F. Payne has illustrated more than a dozen picture books, including the New York Times bestselling Mousetronaut by astronaut Mark Kelly; the Texas Bluebonnet winner Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy, written by Phil Bildner; and the New York Times bestsellers The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Micawber, both by John Lithgow. He teaches at the Columbus College of Art & Design, where he is the chair of the Illustration Department. Payne lives with his wife and children in Cincinnati, Ohio. Visit him online at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date
October 09, 2012
BISAC categories
JUV036000 - Juvenile Fiction | Science & Technology
JUV002180 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Mice, Hamsters, Guinea Pigs, etc.
JUV001000 - Juvenile Fiction | Action & Adventure
Library of Congress categories
Space shuttles
Black-Eyed Susan Award
Nominee 2013 - 2014
Young Hoosier Book Award
Nominee 2015 - 2015
Golden Sower Award
Nominee 2015 - 2015

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