Flashback Fridays: On a Rocket Ride . . .

You’re a young girl with dreams of taking off into space.  So you not only dream and draw your spaceship, but you actually build it, and take off on an amazing trip . . .

Do you remember:


Blast Off by Linda C. Cain and Susen Rosenbaum, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (Gin & Company, 1973)

This book is one I (sadly) have not read.  It’s out of print and exceptionally obscure.  Even Amazon lacks much information on the book.  It’s a real crime that this is the case, because I had no idea such an item was even out there.  Hard enough to find girl-centric science fiction in the 40s-80s, harder still to find African-American girl-centric science fiction.  In fact I didn’t know it existed. Even though the art is by Leo and Diane Dillon, and it’s hard to believe that anything they’ve drawn would be left in obscurity.

This is the picture that had me digging online for more information:


Can you look at this stunning bit of illustration and not wish to know more? Regina Williams is a girl who dreams of being an astronaut.  Even when her friends laugh at the idea and dismiss it, Regina is more determined than ever to achieve her dream.  Given that all my information about this book was pulled from websites and scans, I do not have an actual version to read or refer to.  However, I know enough about the Dillons to know that their work is usually something special.

rosenbaum 2

When this was written, there was not yet a female astronaut and certainly not a woman of color in the space program.  That’s changed over the decades, but the depiction of young women of color, particularly in books about science, invention and exploration is still very thin on the ground.  I wish this particular work was still available today, but all I have are partial scans of the book and others’ accounts of the story.


So, this is an odd sort of flashback.  I hadn’t known about this book until yesterday, but I think it’s an important one to note in the history of SF and science  in literature for children.  Searching around the web, it becomes obvious that one of the sites that’s been most influential in getting the word out there about this book is Brain Pickings.  Their blog post about this book can be found here.

What treasures have you discovered through Internet searches?

Comments welcome!


About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on October 11, 2014, in General Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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