________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 31. . . .April 15, 2016


Chris Hadfield: Inspiring New Generations to Explore Space. (Crabtree Groundbreaker Biographies).

Diane Dakers.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2016.
112 pp., pbk., hc., pdf & html, $14.95 (pbk.), $31.19 (List RLB), $24.95 (School RLB).
ISBN 978-0-7787-2560-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-2558-9 (RLB), ISBN 978-1-4271-9990-4 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4271-9988-1 (html).

Subject Headings:
Hadfield, Chris, 1959- -Juvenile literature.
Astronauts-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Astronautics-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Val Ken Lem.

***1/2 /4



When Chris Hadfield answered the Canadian Space Agency’s help-wanted ad, he wasn’t alone. Exactly 5,329 other candidates also hoped to become astronauts. To make sure he was chosen, Chris spent 10 days preparing his application package. He included two versions—one in each of Canada’s official languages, English and French. He had it professionally printed and bound. He proofread it so many times that he even began editing it in his dreams while he slept. Finally, he couriered the precious parcel to the Canadians Space Agency in Ottawa. Then he waited.


This addition to the "Crabtree Groundbreaker Biographies" is especially welcome as it features an outstanding Canadian, the first national to command the International Space Station (ISS). An earlier volume, Roberta Bondar: Canada's First Woman in Space, focussed on the life and accomplishments of Canada’s first woman in space. Dakers’ biography of Chris Hadfield incorporates generous coverage of the history of Canada’s involvement in space and a general overview of space studies.

      Born in 1959, Hadfield grew up during some of the most exciting years of the space race that saw the United States beat the Soviet Union as the first nation to land humans on the Moon. American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were heroes to many youngsters, but few had the drive and ability to make the dream of becoming an astronaut a reality. Hadfield’s learning and training included membership in the Air Cadets, learning to fly a glider while still a teenager, pursuing post-secondary schooling as a mechanical engineer at Canadian military colleges and becoming a fighter jet pilot with the Canadian Armed Forces. His love of learning and pursuit of his dream led him to the U.S.A. where he became a test pilot and was surrounded by colleagues who also aspired to become astronauts. The creation of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in 1989 and increasing levels of international co-operation as magnificently showcased in the construction and operation of the ISS made it possible for Hadfield and a small group of talented Canadians to become astronauts. In the course of his 21 year career with CSA, Hadfield went to space three times and achieved many Canadian firsts, including his social-media and video infused mission on the ISS that concluded with his command of the station in the spring of 2013.

      The biography touches upon Hadfield’s post-astronaut pursuits as a writer, public speaker, musician and part-time university professor. Features include copious photographic illustrations, but all except those on the cover are in black-and-white. Some images depict official NASA posters for expeditions and logo patches that would be more powerful in colour. A chronology, glossary, index and bibliographical references for further reading are common to works in the series. Far from exhaustive, the references include three books, one being Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth that was written for an adult audience. Also listed are three videos, with annotations, including a TED Talk that can be appreciated by viewers of all ages. A full page of websites, also with annotations, includes NASA’s website for children, Hadfield’s official website that contains hundreds of photos and videos, and a few sites suited to students. Missing is the official CSA website.

      Chris Hadfield is an informative and inspiring biography. His life story, perhaps more than any other Canadian astronaut to date, should inspire youngsters to learn more about space and to pursue learning and their dreams.

Highly Recommended.

Val Ken Lem is a collections librarian at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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