Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 17, 2022

Book Giveaway: BLAST Off by Suzanne Slade

Suzanne Slade has a new non-fiction picture book, BLAST Off, published by Calkins Creek. They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Suzanne and Sally.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!


The inspirational story of Mary Sherman, the world’s first female rocket scientist, who overcame gender barriers and many failures to succeed.

Growing up in the 1920s on a dirt-poor farm in North Dakota, Mary Sherman’s life was filled with chores–until she finally began school and discovered she loved to learn.

Mary excelled at science, especially chemistry, and leaped at the chance to work in a laboratory during World War II designing rocket fuels. And when the US decided to enter the space race, Mary was chosen over her male colleagues to create the fuel to launch a rocket carrying America’s first satellite.

With courage and perseverance, Mary’s hard work and calculations paid off, opening up a brand-new frontier for exploration. This STEM biography of an unsung and courageous woman in science will inspire and motivate young readers.


Research is usually the best, and most frustrating part of writing a nonfiction biography. And of all my picture book projects, Blast Off! proved to be one of the most challenging with regards to research.

When I first started the piece, I was delighted to find many fascinating, reliable sources about the spacecraft involved in the story: the Explorer 1 satellite, the Juno I rocket, and the Vanguard rocket. But I was dismayed to discover Mary Morgan’s history is not well documented. Unfortunately, this is true of many women who have made meaningful contributions to science and other fields. Early historians often ignored women because they believed their work was unimportant.

As time went on and I continued to hit research dead ends, I considered dropping the story entirely. But I didn’t want Mary to be another one of the groundbreaking women that history books overlooked. I was also personally drawn to Mary’s story because of my interest in space exploration and my work at McDonnell Douglas Space Systems on Delta and Titan rockets and the Delta Star spacecraft (I have a mechanical engineering degree).

So, I decided to dig back into research and reached out to Mary’s son, George Morgan, who’d written a compelling book about his mother. George kindly answered many questions, and in time I uncovered the main facts of how Mary became a rocket fuel expert and concocted a new fuel that launched America into space. Since certain details were impossible to find, I used known facts to creatively fill in a few gaps and made note of that in the Author’s Note in the back of the book and classified it as historical fiction.

So although historians may not have regarded women’s science discoveries and contributions worth recording, I’m thrilled this picture book shares Mary’s story of persistence, and how she cleverly created a fuel solution that launched America into space. And I hope her inspiring story encourages readers to pursue their passions and dreams too!


Suzanne Slade is the Sibert Honor author of more than 150 books for children. A mechanical engineer by degree, Suzanne often writes about STEM topics, as well as fascinating figures in history. Visit her at

Newest books:





EXQUISITE: THE POETRY AND LIFE OF GWENDOLYN BROOKS *Robert F. Sibert Honor Book – *Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book



COUNTDOWN: 2979 DAYS TO THE MOON *School Library Journal STARRED review – *Publishers Weekly STARRED review –  *Booklist STARRED review – *2019 Outstanding Science Trade Books – *2019 NSTA Best STEM Books list – *Junior Library Guild Selection

ASTRONAUT ANNIE *Story Time From Space selection (read by astronaut on the Space Station) – *PBS Books “Best Children’s Picture Books of 2018” – *Brightly’s Best Children’s Books

DANGEROUS JANE *2018 Bank Street College of Educ. Best Books of the Year (STARRED Ages 5-9) = *2018 CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People – *The Washington Post “Books to Help Build Strong Girls”

OUT OF SCHOOL AND INTO NATURE: THE ANNA COMSTOCK STORY – *Kirkus Starred Review – *2018 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book – *2018 Amelia Bloomer Recommended List – *2018 Green Earth Book Award Honor Winner – *2017 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award (SONWA) – *2017 California Reading Assoc. Eureka! Silver Award

THE MUSIC IN GEORGE’S HEAD: GEORGE GERSHWIN CREATES RHAPSODY IN BLUE – *Four Starred Reviews (Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers’ Weekly, School Library Journal) – *Parents’ Choice Gold Award – *Booklist’s Top 10 Arts Books for Youth List – *Junior Library Guild Selection – *California Reading Assoc. Eureka! Gold Award – *2017 CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People – *2017 Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers (PreK-3rd) – *2017 Bank Street College of Educ. Best Books of the Year (Ages 5-9) – *2017 Golden Kite Winner for Picture Book Illustration

THE INVENTOR’S SECRET *2017 NSTA Best STEM Book List -*2016 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book -*CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People

FRIENDS FOR FREEDOM *Amelia Bloomer Recommended Titles List – *CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books For Young People – *Starred Review – Publishers Weekly

THE SODA BOTTLE SCHOOL *California Reading Assoc. Eureka! Silver Award – *2015 Reading is Fundamental Multicultural Booklist – *2015 Green Prize – THE HOUSE THAT GEORGE BUILT – *Junior Library Guild Selection – *Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year – *2016 ILLINOIS READS selection

CLIMBING LINCOLN’S STEPS *Paterson Prize for Books for Young People – *Notable Social Studies Trade Books For Young People – *Available in most Scholastic School Book Fairs

MULTIPLY ON THE FLY *California Reading Assoc. Eureka! Silver Honor Book – *Illinois READS selection –

WHAT’S NEW AT THE ZOO? *Teachers’ Choice Children’s Book Award


Sally Wern Comport began her career as an artist at age 15, drawing furniture newspaper ads for her dad’s [much more innocent] Mad-Men-era advertising agency. Since then, her prolific catalog of creative works span decades, applying visual problem solving to editorial concepts, corporate collateral, children’s publications, commercial branding design, and large-scale art. Comport is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the Columbus College of Art and Design and earned her graduate degree from Syracuse University and continues to guest lecture and teach at Maryland Institute College of Art. She co-founded W/C Studio Inc., a commercial art studio in 1986 with clients as wide ranging as American Express Bank, Microsoft, UPS, and Simon Schuster Publishing. Her work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of American Illustration in New York.

Comport established her design studio Art at Large, Inc. in 2003, which specializes in large-scale artistic solutions for interior and exterior spaces. Clients include George Washington’s Mount Vernon, University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopedic Institute, the Harriet Tubman Visitors Center, Anne Arundel Medical Center, and the Maryland Historical Society. She serves as a designer/consultant to several non-profit Boards, including Providence Center, Visit Annapolis, and the public art initiative she co-founded in 2004 known as ArtWalk. Comport’s latest picture books include Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Guiding Beliefs by Dr. Angela Farris Watkins and Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood, for which she has received many honors including the Christopher Award, the 2017 Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, and inclusion in The Society of Illustrator’s Original Art Show. Sally is represented by Shannon Associates in New York City, and resides with her family in Annapolis, Maryland.

Sally Wern Comport has illustrated numerous picture books and novels, including Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Guiding Beliefs (as told by his niece)Brave Margaret: An Irish AdventureHanging Off Jefferson’s Nose: Growing Up on Mt. Rushmore; and the Spy Mice series. She has also translated her picture making skills to various large-scale public, private, and institutional artworks. Sally lives with her husband and two daughters in Annapolis, Maryland, where she operates Art at Large Inc. Learn more at

Thank you Suzanne for sharing you book and journey with us. From the moment I saw the cover and the artwork in this book, I had to read it. Once aI di, I had to track Suzanne down to invite her on Writing and Illustrating. Not only are the illustrations amazing, but this little known story about Mary Sherman Morgan who created the rocket fuel hydynespace program with two engineers as her assistants is just as amazing. I am certain this book will inspire young girls to follow their dreams. Teachers will love the back matter back matter with photos, timeline, selected bibliography, and more details about Mary and the Juno 1 rocket and the Explorer 1 satellite. You don’t want to miss this book. Good luck Suzanne and Sally.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. what a story! her story deserves to be shared in such a beautiful way


  2. I can’t wait to read this book. Thank you for your persistence in bringing this woman’s contributions to readers. And I love the style of the illustrations. On my list!


  3. I am building my collection of biographies and would love to add this precious book to my 921 section!


  4. Congratulations on your book! This looks like a fantastic read!


  5. Another fantastic book by Suzanne! And a great trailer! Thanks for sharing the journey! (I’m a subscriber, tweeting)


  6. I can’t wait to read this book! I’m a subscriber and shared:


  7. I shared on FB, Pinterest, and Twitter. thanks.


  8. I love learning about people in history that are often overlooked. Fabulous story!


  9. Looks amazing! Would love to put in my classroom!


  10. Wow! This book looks wonderful. What a special story. Congrats, Suzanne & Sally!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love your creative workaround to not finding enough information about Mary.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love the feel of this book, spot on with the time period! Lovely! Congratulations!

    I might be too late, but that’s okay, I still tweeted this cool picture book! And I follow by email.

    Liked by 1 person

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