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The Challenger Disaster: Tragedy in the Skies

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In History Comics: The Challenger Disaster, we turn the clock back to January 28, 1986. Seven astronauts boarded the space shuttle Challenger on what would be a routine mission. All eyes and cameras were on crew member Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher, who was set to become the first private citizen in space. Excitement filled the air as the clock counted down to l In History Comics: The Challenger Disaster, we turn the clock back to January 28, 1986. Seven astronauts boarded the space shuttle Challenger on what would be a routine mission. All eyes and cameras were on crew member Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher, who was set to become the first private citizen in space. Excitement filled the air as the clock counted down to liftoff. But at T-plus seventy-three seconds after launch, the unthinkable happened... What caused the midair explosion? In Pranas T. Naujokaitis's imaginative tale, set in a far-off future, a group of curious kids investigate the hard questions surrounding the Challenger explosion. Inspired by the legacy and sacrifice of the Challenger seven, they continue in their footsteps, setting out toward the stars and into the great unknown!


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In History Comics: The Challenger Disaster, we turn the clock back to January 28, 1986. Seven astronauts boarded the space shuttle Challenger on what would be a routine mission. All eyes and cameras were on crew member Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher, who was set to become the first private citizen in space. Excitement filled the air as the clock counted down to l In History Comics: The Challenger Disaster, we turn the clock back to January 28, 1986. Seven astronauts boarded the space shuttle Challenger on what would be a routine mission. All eyes and cameras were on crew member Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher, who was set to become the first private citizen in space. Excitement filled the air as the clock counted down to liftoff. But at T-plus seventy-three seconds after launch, the unthinkable happened... What caused the midair explosion? In Pranas T. Naujokaitis's imaginative tale, set in a far-off future, a group of curious kids investigate the hard questions surrounding the Challenger explosion. Inspired by the legacy and sacrifice of the Challenger seven, they continue in their footsteps, setting out toward the stars and into the great unknown!

30 review for The Challenger Disaster: Tragedy in the Skies

  1. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    The basic story of the challenger disaster is a truly interesting historical even. And I loved the retelling here. What i found odd, and disjointed was that this whole story is told by school children 400 years in the future. It is a secondary story line that is really unnecessary. The story it self is fascinating, and it doesn't have to be retold by holograms. I love that Feynman and the Rogers Commission is also included, because that explained the "O" ring failure, and that is what I remember The basic story of the challenger disaster is a truly interesting historical even. And I loved the retelling here. What i found odd, and disjointed was that this whole story is told by school children 400 years in the future. It is a secondary story line that is really unnecessary. The story it self is fascinating, and it doesn't have to be retold by holograms. I love that Feynman and the Rogers Commission is also included, because that explained the "O" ring failure, and that is what I remember from this time, the Congressional hearings. So, while I don't like how this story was told, I would still recommend getting this, as it is a good explination of what lead up to the Challenger Disaster. Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sierra Dertinger

    I’ve enjoyed learning from this new series. This one was very well done and I loved how the history was presented in the future from a student presentation. The bits of humor throughout was great, and the part that spoke of the disaster was emotional. What a great graphic novel that covers a huge part of history we have learned from.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Brown

    I am a little too young to remember the Challenger disaster, but the image of those terrible smoke plumes in the Florida sky is one that has stuck in my mind for my whole life. History Comics: The Challenger Disaster by Pranas T. Naujokaitis is a middle-grade graphic novel that explores the disaster in detail. Please note: This post contains affiliate links. The framework of The Challenger Disaster is set in a classroom aboard a Mars-orbiting space station on January 28th in the year 2386. A class I am a little too young to remember the Challenger disaster, but the image of those terrible smoke plumes in the Florida sky is one that has stuck in my mind for my whole life. History Comics: The Challenger Disaster by Pranas T. Naujokaitis is a middle-grade graphic novel that explores the disaster in detail. Please note: This post contains affiliate links. The framework of The Challenger Disaster is set in a classroom aboard a Mars-orbiting space station on January 28th in the year 2386. A class of four diverse students and their teacher are celebrating Challenger Day with the four kids each giving a presentation on one aspect of the disaster that befell mission STS-51-L. One student, Carmen, considers the exercise to be pointless—what’s the point in remembering something that happened 400 years ago? What relevance could it possibly have now? Before they can begin, however, an accident aboard the space station briefly cuts off the artificial gravity and endangers the life of an engineer when he works to fix it. The first student to give their presentation is Fatima, who explores the space shuttle itself. Using holographic projections to show how the shuttles were created, she explains the history of the shuttle program to her classmates and teacher and later takes them on a virtual reality “field trip” to Kennedy Space Center. Here, they talk with a holographic projection of Francis “Dick” Scobee, Commander of the STS-51-L mission, who acts as their tour guide. The kids get to ride a virtual simulation of the shuttle with Scobee and Fatima explaining each process from countdown through a launch, a typical mission, and landing. Next to give his presentation is Chris whose topic is the STS-51-L crew. Chris introduces each one of the seven crew members aboard Challenger, covering their personal history, positions and responsibilities aboard Challenger, and why they were picked for the mission. When discussing Christa McAuliffe, he also explains the Teachers in Space program in detail. This section also explores the training procedures the astronauts underwent, especially important given that STS-51-L was to be the first mission with civilians aboard. After a lunch break where Carmen is able to briefly speak with the engineer who worked on that morning’s accident, the class reconvenes, and their teacher, Ms. Slifer takes over to present the story of the STS-51-L launch. This was one of the hardest parts to read, even knowing that it was coming, and I couldn’t get through it without tears. Despite the jovial, light-hearted style of the book, this part of the story is handled sensitively without becoming morbid, and its impact can be seen on all the class members and their teacher. The next student to take over is Max, who does his presentation about the aftermath of STS-51-L, specifically the Rogers Commission which was set up to investigate the causes of the disaster. Max gives his classmates some “retro” printed photographs and introduces them to a holograph of Richard Feynman, one of the investigators on the Rogers Commission. Feynman guides the class through the investigation as he saw it, helping them use their own investigative skills to deduce, as he did, the causes behind the disaster, as well as what changes were made as a result. The fourth and final member of the class—Carmen—is supposed to give her presentation on the lasting impact of the Challenger disaster on humanity. When she gets to the front, she reveals that she had considered the assignment stupid, but has now learned a lot from her classmates and the special guests. Now she understands the importance of STS-51-L, and why it should never be forgotten. When I first opened The Challenger Disaster to find it was set on a Martian space station and had slapstick humor on almost the first page, I worried that it wouldn’t handle such an important topic in a way that felt appropriate. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The framing device of the kids in their futuristic history class complete with VR trips and holographic guest speakers allows us as readers to become a part of the Challenger story and exploring it through the eyes of important figures like McAuliffe, Scobee, and Feynman which gives the story a far more personal touch than any dry retelling could ever hope for. The latter parts of this book are, naturally, upsetting at times. It’s impossible to write a book about Challenger without discussing some difficult topics and The Challenger Disaster doesn’t shy away from the facts. The sections narrated by Feynman are especially difficult to read as he explains some details about the crew’s experience during the disaster that can lead to some deeply upsetting mental pictures. Parents should be prepared for this and I would advise that they pre-read this book before handing it to young or sensitive readers. Older readers may also be upset and angered by Feynman’s section when they discover that the mission was allowed to take place despite significant safety concerns being raised and ignored. This is a great opportunity to discuss a lot of important topics but young readers might find the implications of what they discover here difficult to process. The Challenger Disaster is a great book that conveys a huge amount of detail without ever feeling overwhelming or dry. The book is part of a series that so far also includes The Roanoake Colony and The Great Chicago Fire and I know I’ll be picking up some more of these in the future. GeekMom received a copy of this item for review purposes.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Becky B

    A class of kids in a space station around Mars are doing a project for Challenger Day. Different kids in the class have to report on different aspects of the Challenger disaster. One girl goes over the technical details of the shuttle and development of the space program to the point of getting to that flight. Another kid introduces the members of the Challenger crew. The teacher talks about the actual disaster. Another kid talks about the investigation into what went wrong and how things change A class of kids in a space station around Mars are doing a project for Challenger Day. Different kids in the class have to report on different aspects of the Challenger disaster. One girl goes over the technical details of the shuttle and development of the space program to the point of getting to that flight. Another kid introduces the members of the Challenger crew. The teacher talks about the actual disaster. Another kid talks about the investigation into what went wrong and how things changed because of the results of that investigation. And the last kid talks about how the Challenger disaster has left a lasting mark on space flight and the way things are run at NASA. Though this has a fictional premise, it is loaded with facts and for that reason I could justify shelving this in the nonfiction section. It does a great job of covering every aspect of the disaster. I was one of those school children who was watching the Challenger launch live. I was in 1st grade, and I remember it happening and the sadness that everyone had over it. (As a current teacher I can’t imagine being one of those teachers dealing with traumatized kids. There was no delayed live feed back then, we watched it as it happened. But I also don’t remember anyone in my class really freaking out about it at the time…though that is probably because we were all just 1st graders and might not have fully grasped what was going on.) Because I was only in 1st grade I had no awareness about the investigation that went on after the disaster (and I was shocked to learn Feynman was involved!) or how it impacted future space flight. I learned a lot from this book, and I’m sure modern school students will know very little about this disaster and will find this an eye-opening and super educational read. I felt like the author did an amazing job of presenting a factual relating of history in an engaging way, while also staying positive about the possibilities of space flight and honoring the memory of the people involved and showing how their deaths are not forgotten and that good for others came out of their tragedy. Highly recommended. Notes on content [based on ARC]: No language issues (unless geez is a swearword in your house). No sexual content. Deaths of the 7 members of the crew plus a few other disasters are mentioned, nothing but smoke shown. I received an ARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Read more graphic novel reviews at www.graphiclibrary.org. This latest installment in History Comics presents the events leading up to and including the accident of the Challenger. This is done through a group of four students and their teacher, set 400 years into the future, where the students are tasked with a history report on Challenger Day, a holiday commemorating the lives lost during the space craft's explosion. The narrative is comprised of four parts: history of the space program, where Read more graphic novel reviews at www.graphiclibrary.org. This latest installment in History Comics presents the events leading up to and including the accident of the Challenger. This is done through a group of four students and their teacher, set 400 years into the future, where the students are tasked with a history report on Challenger Day, a holiday commemorating the lives lost during the space craft's explosion. The narrative is comprised of four parts: history of the space program, where particular attention is placed on the Space Shuttle program in particular; the history of Challenger crew, where each member shares their biographical information through the use of AR technology in the students' classroom; the accident itself, presented by the teacher and given all due gravitas; and the Rogers Commission, told largely by Richard Feynman through AR again. The setting of a future Mars space station is a fitting space to explore something that to us is relatively recent history. The students, for the most part, give significant respect to the subject matter knowing the outcome of the launch. There is one character whose commentary is slightly unnecessary. At one point, in telling about waining public support for the space program, she criticizes 20th century humans and calls them "stupid" for even entertaining the idea of discontinuing the space program. It did also feel slightly odd to have members of the Challenger crew participate as characters, especially when the future students acknowledge to each other that these people will not survive the mission the crew is teaching them about. Aside from the color commentary, the events of the Challenger mission, disaster, and the investigation afterwards are presented with clarity and fairly. Students who have yet to get to this moment in history during their studies will appreciate this title because it is easy to read and provides a great overview of an important moment in our space exploration and part of the human experience. Sara's Rating: 7/10 Suitability Level: Grades 5-8 This review was made possible with an advanced reader copy from the publisher through Net Galley. This graphic novel will be on sale October 27, 2020.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

    It's the year 2386, and the students on Space Station Sagan are celebrating Challenger Day. The students begin their presentations, and through the magic of AI and holograms, meet the seven members of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger crew, hear about their selection and training for the Challenger mission, and what went so horribly wrong that day in January 1986. Written as nonfiction within a fictional setting, The Challenger Disaster creates fun, engaging characters and lets them interact wit It's the year 2386, and the students on Space Station Sagan are celebrating Challenger Day. The students begin their presentations, and through the magic of AI and holograms, meet the seven members of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger crew, hear about their selection and training for the Challenger mission, and what went so horribly wrong that day in January 1986. Written as nonfiction within a fictional setting, The Challenger Disaster creates fun, engaging characters and lets them interact with actual people from US history to deliver a narrative that is great for history and STEM readers, and graphic novel readers alike. Each member of the 1986 Challenger crew is developed and invites readers to meet the people behind the legend, behind the headlines. Back matter includes an afterword from the author about growing up in a post-Challenger world and additional Challenger facts. The artwork introduces a fun science fiction feel while solidly addressing the nonfiction portion of the book. Sketches and diagrams throughout will help readers gain an understanding of the many moving parts it takes for a space shuttle to come together, and the discussion on the story behind the disaster is sobering and, quite frankly, chilling. It's a mistake that should never have been made, and it brings home the risk of stepping outside our front doors.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    People my age all remember where they were and what they were doing when the Challenger exploded. It was a sad day for space explorations. It was also a sad day because of the teacher is space program. Living in a space city I was very excited about reading this book. The comic starts out in the future on Challenger Day. As kids are want to do in school they are having to present a project on the Challenger. They don't see the need to be studying this boring stuff. They dive into the history of People my age all remember where they were and what they were doing when the Challenger exploded. It was a sad day for space explorations. It was also a sad day because of the teacher is space program. Living in a space city I was very excited about reading this book. The comic starts out in the future on Challenger Day. As kids are want to do in school they are having to present a project on the Challenger. They don't see the need to be studying this boring stuff. They dive into the history of the space program discovering why the shuttle was shaped as it was. About the external boosters. The shuttles take off and landings. There is great detail given to the tiles that are on the outside of the shuttle. The students introduce us to the seven men and women that were aboard the Challenger that fateful day in January. The first teacher in space Christa McAuliffe was of particular interest to the world because she was the first nonastronaut in space. I'm afraid the section about the commission that investigated the explosion could be over the heads of children. I feel that children will enjoy the comic version of this story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    This book was received as an ARC from First Second Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I wanted to preview this book for a long time. I did a whole unit when I was in fifth grade on the Challenger explosion and how disaster struck at 73 seconds after launch. I absolutely loved all of the drawings and the incorporation of the students at school learning the importance of the launch and figuring out clues of the explosion. It This book was received as an ARC from First Second Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I wanted to preview this book for a long time. I did a whole unit when I was in fifth grade on the Challenger explosion and how disaster struck at 73 seconds after launch. I absolutely loved all of the drawings and the incorporation of the students at school learning the importance of the launch and figuring out clues of the explosion. It was also nice to get a "pictured" version of the ship and the passengers with their background and the history at the time. The best part was seeing all of the student's reactions at the history of the scientists and the ship itself and integrating it to what we know now in the future. All of the students in our community will be fascinated with this book and it will circulate very well in our collection. We will consider adding this title to our JNon-Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Meredith Ann

    A thorough history of the Challenger for a younger audience. The layers of storytelling - from the science behind space travel to the history of it to the importance of that particular mission - really create a complete picture. Each part builds upon each other to lead up to launch day and beyond. The book falls flat with the Challenger Day storyline with the students set in the future. It didn't feel particularly necessary and the glossing over of years of civil rights and social justice activi A thorough history of the Challenger for a younger audience. The layers of storytelling - from the science behind space travel to the history of it to the importance of that particular mission - really create a complete picture. Each part builds upon each other to lead up to launch day and beyond. The book falls flat with the Challenger Day storyline with the students set in the future. It didn't feel particularly necessary and the glossing over of years of civil rights and social justice activism really fell flat for me. A more modern setting would've been just as, if not more, successful in stressing this mission's role within American history. Still, I enjoyed it and learned a lot. It will serve as a nice next step for kids interested in space and NASA who have grown beyond the more introductory history and facts.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Celestemcolon

    I was really excited to see a new graphic novel by First Second and requested a review copy from NetGalley. This continues their series about United States History. This is not just a story but a well created guidebook to space shuttles. Told from a futuristic classroom and the ghosts of the Challenger. Lots of history is shared within this book giving background information that really shares how the Space Race impacted many generations. From the creation of the team that would board the Challe I was really excited to see a new graphic novel by First Second and requested a review copy from NetGalley. This continues their series about United States History. This is not just a story but a well created guidebook to space shuttles. Told from a futuristic classroom and the ghosts of the Challenger. Lots of history is shared within this book giving background information that really shares how the Space Race impacted many generations. From the creation of the team that would board the Challenger to the investigation after the disaster, your reader will come away well informed. This is a celebration of both the men and women who helped create NASA as we know it. Share this book with your upper level elementary students or middle school students who love history or space travel.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Great Books

    On January 28, 2386 a group of students orbiting Mars begins their study of the Challenger mission on Earth four hundred years ago, when seven astronauts boarded a space shuttle for a routine mission. Among the seven was Christa McAuliffe, a science teacher who was supposed to be the first civilian launched into space. The launch was perfect and then tragedy struck. As the students continue their research they learn the cause of the disaster and of the events that followed. Reviewer 27

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    This book is told on the 400th anniversary of the Challenger explosion. A group of 5th graders living in Mars' orbit on a space station is doing a presentation for "Challenger Day". It is a bit information-heavy at the beginning, but gets better as it goes. I did actually learn a lot about the Challenger, its crew, the explosion, and the investigation. Good art. Good story. #NetGalley

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    The premise of the History Comics series seems to be a unique way of incorporating fiction to introduce historical events in an accessible graphic novel format. Having recently consumed a lot on the Challenger disaster, I know the nonfiction elements are very accurate. As a kid, I would have loved this just as much as I do now.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Netgalley Think Nathan Hale Hazardous Histories ration of text to pictures, with similar size text Very good coverage of the event with a funny little introductory story to start it out.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Am crying. Queer content: Sally Ride gets a couple of mentions, but no mention of her queerness. Then again, I don’t think anybody expected queer content in this one.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

  19. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anu

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hanna Collins

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kennedy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bill Buchanan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alison

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

  27. 5 out of 5

    Zachary

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  29. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  30. 5 out of 5

    Manivannan

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