Bonnie's Rocket

By Kirkus Reviews

A young Asian American girl engineers a rocket launch while her father does the same.

It’s 1968, and Bonnie’s father is a NASA engineer working on the Apollo 11 mission. It’s a job that requires him to be far from home for 10 months. While Baba is hundreds of miles away working on launching astronauts to the moon, Bonnie has a task of her own: “designing a magnificent rocket ship.” As she works on her project—setbacks and breakthroughs included—letters from Baba offer encouragement. And like Baba’s team of engineers, Bonnie’s diverse group of friends and her sibling, Mei Mei, are a strong, collaborative crew. With them by her side, Bonnie works through the various stages—the Design, the Build, the Test, the Analysis—before a successful launch the day before the Apollo 11 lifts off. Lee accessibly introduces scientific principles as Bonnie toils through the construction of her rocket. Readers follow along as she troubleshoots and gets inspired. Chau’s inviting illustrations depict Bonnie’s methodology, using her notebook as the backdrop for many spreads. Paired with the parallel narrative of an engineer father away working on a space mission, the moments of distance, encouragement, and shared interest provide additional emotional resonance. In an author’s note, Lee discusses drawing inspiration from her grandfather, who was born in Guangzhou, China, and immigrated to the United States, where he worked with NASA and the Apollo space program.

An engaging father-daughter STEAM story full of support and scientific inquiry.

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