Blast Off

by Linda C Cain (Author) Leo Dillon (Illustrator)

Blast Off
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

An inspiring story about a young Black girl who wants to be an astronaut, written years before Black astronauts were sent into space. This remarkable picture book has been out of print for decades, until now.

First published in 1973, a year after the final Apollo mission, when American astronauts were exclusively white and male, Blast Off is the story of a young African American girl with a vision and a mission. Regina Williams wants to be an astronaut. One day she's drawing a picture of a rocket ship on the sidewalk when her friends come by and start to tease her. "You'll never be an astronaut," they say.

In reply, she builds her own spaceship with old boxes, pipes, and cans. Before long she's in space, her eyes wide with wonder at the smallness of the blue-green Earth, the blackness of space, the stars and satellites. When she comes back down to earth, her friends don't believe her, but she knows her dream is real.

An inspiring story of interstellar space travel with illustrations by the legendary Diane and Leo Dillon.

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School Library Journal

Starred Review

Young Regina Williams, who is Black, dreams of becoming as astronaut. Her imagination fills the pages of her drawings, taking her to the moon and beyond despite others doubting her. The illustrations transport readers back to the time when space travel was just an idea. The first spread, depicting Regina in full color and her alter-ego in black and white pencil, perfectly conveys the dream, as well as a young woman manifesting her own destiny. Pair this with Roda Ahmed's Mae Among The Stars or Steven Breen's Violet The Pilot for a STEAM-themed story hour. VERDICT Libraries that still have the 1973 edition of this title, long out of print, will appreciate this perky new version; it's a great story, prescient in its time, about the power of imagination as a tool or fuel for reaching for the stars.—Ruth Guerrier-Pierre, New York P.L.

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"[An] extraordinarily imaginative little book. . . . Blast Off endures as a heartening antidote to a culture that all too frequently contains and confines children's dreams by selling them lesser visions of the possible, failing to cultivate in them the essential capacity to imagine immensities." —Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

Linda C Cain
Linda C. Cain and Susan Rosenbaum's Blast Off was illustrated by Leo (1933-2012) and Diane Dillon. The Dillons worked together on more than 50 children's books and were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society of Illustrators in 2008.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
New York Review of Books
Publication date
September 20, 2021
BISAC categories
JUV051000 - Juvenile Fiction | Imagination & Play
JUV011010 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JUV036010 - Juvenile Fiction | Technology | Astronauts & Space
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
Outer space

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