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Taking Off

Taking Off

4.5 6
by Jenny Moss

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Reimagining the days surrounding this unforgettable event in history, readers are brought back to 1986 as the astronauts prepare for the Challenger mission, and Christa McAullife trains to be the first teacher in space. When a teen named Annie meets Christa, she is fascinated by Christa's courage. Truly inspired, Annie is determined to make it to Florida to see the


Reimagining the days surrounding this unforgettable event in history, readers are brought back to 1986 as the astronauts prepare for the Challenger mission, and Christa McAullife trains to be the first teacher in space. When a teen named Annie meets Christa, she is fascinated by Christa's courage. Truly inspired, Annie is determined to make it to Florida to see the Challenger launch, a trip that will forever change how she thinks about herself and her secret desire for her own future. Although she is devastated when tragedy strikes, Annie honors Christa by following her own dream, despite the obstacles. Bringing in her experience as a NASA engineer, Jenny Moss weaves a moving story that recaptures the inspiration teens must have felt years ago as they watched Christa McAuliffe reach for the sky.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It is 1986 and Annie, a timid high school senior, lives in Clear Lake, Tex., where astronauts are training for the next flight of the Challenger space shuttle. Annie's possessive boyfriend wants to get married after they graduate; her mother wants her to go to college; and Annie, whose secret dream is to be a poet, is paralyzed with indecision. Through Annie's best friend Lea, the daughter of NASA parents, Annie meets Christa McAuliffe, the first participant in the Teacher in Space Project. McAuliffe inspires Annie to start making her own choices, the first being a road trip to see the Challenger launch with her father and his young, handsome co-worker, who soon has Annie rethinking her current relationship. Motivated by McAuliffe's bravery, Annie pushes past her fears to take her future into her own hands. Moss (Shadow), a former NASA employee who helped train crew members for this Challenger mission, makes McAuliffe perhaps too idealized a figure, but teens should relate to indecisive Annie, and Moss's depiction of the effect of the shuttle's destruction on Annie hits hard. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)
VOYA - Debbie Wenk
In the fall of 1985, high school senior Annie is ambivalent about her future. Her best friend, Lea, is pushing Annie to go with her to the University of Texas at Austin. Annie's boyfriend, Mark, wants them to stay and build a future in Clear Lake, home of the Johnson Space Center. Annie is comfortable with her life as it is and is resistant to change, yet she is restless too. While her passion is poetry, she's afraid to share that with anyone. She admires Lea for her outgoing personality yet cannot alter her own innate shyness. Then a meeting with Christa McAuliffe—who is training for the Teacher in Space mission—moves something in Annie. Determined to see Christa fulfill her dream, Annie manages to arrange a trip—her first out of Texas—with her irresponsible father and her father's young coworker to Florida to witness the historic launch. The trip becomes one of discovery and, of course, tragedy. The author has done a convincing job of conveying Annie's confusion over her future. The reader will agonize with her, but today's teen may not understand the inspiration Annie finds in Christa McAuliffe. Those of us old enough to remember that time in NASA's history will recall the vivacious McAuliffe and be more apt to believe it. The story will resonate with teens who are struggling with self-discovery and those all-important decisions about their future. Reviewer: Debbie Wenk
Children's Literature - Tiffany Torbeck
Annie is a high school senior living in Clear Lake, Texas surrounded by NASA employees. Like most high school students, she is trying to decide what to do after graduation and what will become of her and her high school boyfriend. Secretly, she wants to be a poet, but feels like no one would encourage that goal and also feels utterly lost. Then, she meets Christa McAuliffe, the teacher selected to become an astronaut for the Challenger mission. Annie is completely mesmerized by Christa's positive attitude and cheerful outlook on life. Suddenly, Annie feels like she could pursue her dreams, just like Christa. This feeling leads Anne to embark on a road trip with her father, and his very attractive co-worker, to see the launch of the Challenger ship. The events that take place change Annie's life in many bold ways, and she tries to find the courage to live the life she wants. While this is a historical fiction book at first glance, the real story is Annie's. Christa McAuliffe was Annie's inspiration, but it is what Annie does about her life that will inspire others. Many readers will see themselves in this story of struggling to decide about their future and what risks they will take. The information about the Challenger mission is gripping and will bring more readers to this heartfelt book. This book might take a little hand-selling from librarians, but once a few readers get a hold of it, more are sure to follow. Reviewer: Tiffany Torbeck
School Library Journal
Gr 8–11—Annie is lost. It is 1985, her senior year, and she has no idea what will come after graduation: college, a job in her Texas town, marriage to her longtime boyfriend, maybe revealing to the world that she desperately wants to be a poet. All of these are possible, but Annie just cannot decide among them. A chance encounter with Christa McAuliffe (Annie's best friend's parents work for NASA) motivates Annie to take a road trip to see the Challenger launch. With her less-than-reliable dad and his handsome young friend, Annie sets out on an excursion that will end in tragedy and change. The novel paints a lovely portrait of a smart, strong, friendly McAuliffe. In fact, the author's background as a NASA engineer makes all of the scenes based at Johnson or Kennedy Space Center grounded and intriguing. Moss's descriptive language is almost poetic. When portraying Annie's life, however, the prose is less elegant. Annie has trouble articulating her confusion about her future, even to herself, and readers are told over and again that she is insecure and socially inept. This slows the book down, and, instead of authentic voices, it's the author's that comes through. Back matter includes a chronology of Christa McAuliffe's life and a bibliography concerning the Challenger.—Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews

Living in Clear Lake, Texas, home of Johnson Space Center, in 1985, high-school senior Annie, the granddaughter of Winnie fromWinnie's War(2009), secretly writes poetry in a town filled with scientists. With her single mother encouraging her to go to college and her longtime boyfriend hoping she'll settle down with him, everyone has a plan for Annie—except Annie. Then she meets Christa McAuliffe, training at J.S.C., and decides that she must watch this self-assured teachernaut achieve her dreams. After a sorrowful yet enlightening road trip, accompanied by her single dad and—unexpectedly—his young co-worker, to watch theChallengerlaunch, Annie discovers that she must see her own dreams take wings. Moss, a former NASA engineer who trained some of theChallengercrew, marks the 25th anniversary of theChallengerdisaster with this tender tribute to McAuliffe and her continuing inspiring impact on the youth of America. While depicting the feel of the mid-'80s—jean jackets and shoulder pads galore—she also beautifully portrays the timeless teen quest for identity. (author's note, bibliography)(Historical fiction. YA)

Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
HL520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Jenny Moss is a former NASA engineer who worked for NASA during the Challenger disaster, helping to train Judy Resnick and other crew members for that ill-fated mission. She is the author of Winnie's War and Shadow , and lives in Texas.

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Taking Off 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
U r awesome r u from cali? I never hear nyone but me say totes or awk or obvi or nything like that!!!! Hi five gurl!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im 11 can i read it or should i read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I lov u
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No im not but i say that kinda stuff alot r u?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Get it. So good!!! At first, furst 30 pages, ok alright, the others, man, edge. Of. My. Seat. Amazing. Get it now!!!