Ellen Takes Flight

The Life of Astronaut Ellen Ochoa


By Doreen Rappaport

Illustrated by Oliver Dominguez

Formats and Prices




$24.99 CAD




Hardcover $19.99 $24.99 CAD

Celebrate the groundbreaking life of astronaut and Johnson Space Center director Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina in space, in this latest book in the award-winning Big Words biography series.

Young Ellen loved to learn. Encouraged by her mother, she graduated at the top of her high school and college classes, and studied electrical engineering in graduate school. An accomplished engineer by age 30, with three patents to her name, she kept learning and trying new things. When NASA began accepting women and people of color to the astronaut program, Ellen found herself drawn to this exciting and demanding career. On her first mission, she was the only woman aboard the shuttle Discovery and the first Latina to reach outer space. After four space flights, she became the first Latina director of the Johnson Space Center and has received numerous distinctions and awards.
This addition to the award-winning Big Words biography series celebrates a STEM pioneer known for her brilliance, persistence, and an intellectual curiosity as infinite as the stars. With dynamic illustrations by Oliver Dominguez, Doreen Rappaport’s richly detailed narrative—punctuated with standout quotes from Ellen herself—will inspire a new generation to unravel the mysteries of the universe.

  • A Junior Library Guild Selection
    A Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year
    A 2023 Chicago Public Library Best Informational Book for Young Readers
    ​A Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Book of 2023

    A 2024 National Science Teaching Association Best STEM Book
    A CBC Children's and Teacher Favorites List Selection
    A Rhode Island Children’s Book Award Nominee
  • * "The writing is excellent: Essential aspects of astronaut qualifications, training, and experience are described in clear detail.... Brilliant, sure-handed gouache illustrations add even more vivid life to the well-paced text.... A book sure to fly off shelves and into children’s hands."
    Kirkus Reviews, starred review
  • * "Inspirational.... Dominguez’s engineering-like mixed-media art fittingly captures the underlying details around Ochoa’s determination and time spent in space."
    Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • * "The majestic art is done in gouache, ink, color pencil, and pastel. The paintings are reminiscent of Norman Rockwell’s work and have incredible detail.... An excellent picture book biography of a groundbreaking Latina that soars."
    School Library Journal, starred review
  • "The text is informative and lively.... Pastel-hued scenes of Ochoa’s training and flights into space—in particular, a spread of her learning to parachute—radiate the joy which the astronaut approached her life’s pursuit."
    The Horn Book
  • "Rappaport’s informative text moves along at a good pace, and the illustrations—drawings painted with vibrant colors—are lively.... A picture-book biography for tomorrow’s astronauts."
  • Praise for Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
    ALSC Notable Children’s Books 
    2021 RISE List Top Ten
    Bank Street College of Education Best Books
  • "Striking."
  • "A well-researched picture book biography."
    Publishers Weekly
  • "Velasquez's arresting jacket portrait of Ginsburg, superimposed on a facsimile of the U.S. Constitution, conveys a woman of purpose; Rappaport's biography, largely focused on Ginsburg's work for gender equality, reinforces this first impression."
    Horn Book

On Sale
Sep 19, 2023
Page Count
48 pages

Doreen Rappaport

About the Author

Doreen Rappaport’s nonfiction and historical fiction books have been acclaimed for their meticulous research and varied literary styles. She is the recipient of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC, lifetime achievement award for the writing of nonfiction. Her many award-winning biographies include the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor Book Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., illustrated by Bryan Collier; Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, illustrated by Kadir Nelson; and Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Doreen lives in upstate New York and invites you to visit her online at doreenrappaport.com.
Tonya Engel is an award-winning artist and children’s book illustrator. Her personal, autobiographical work can be found in public and private collections around the world. She has received several awards and honors for her illustrations, including the 2020 Septima Clark Book Award for Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou by Bethany Hegedus, and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Honor Book for Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming of Our Enslaved History by Schele Williams. She lives in Houston, Texas, and invites you to visit her online at tonyaengel.com.

Learn more about this author