Rocket Man: The Mercury Adventure of John Glenn

Written by Ruth Ashby
Review by Meg Wiviott

In 1961, the Soviet Union was winning the Space Race; having sent a man into orbit before the US had even sent a man into space. President Kennedy threw down the gauntlet in May 1962, publicly claiming that the US would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. The first step toward that goal was made on February 20, 1962 when Friendship 7 launched astronaut John Glenn into space to become the first American to orbit Earth. Glenn, as one of the Mercury 7 astronauts, spent years of intensive physical and psychological training to prepare for space travel. Though no one truly knew what to expect, he was well aware of and prepared to face whatever dangers he encountered.

Ruth Ashby’s biography of John Glenn begins with his boyhood in Ohio and concludes with his return to space in 1998 at the age of 77. It is well-told and exciting, and though it spans decades, the reader is never bogged down. Likewise, Ashby does not inundate the reader with physics, engineering, and mechanics; there is enough for the reader to understand, and enough to intrigue certain readers to seek out more information. John Glenn’s persistence and commitment to his profession and country are made clear. Ashby pulls information from primary sources, making the dramatic story reliable. Named by NSTA/CBC as an Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12, the story is geared for middle grade readers.