cover image Mae Among the Stars

Mae Among the Stars

Roda Ahmed, illus. by Stasia Burrington. Harper, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-265173-0

Ahmed’s first children’s book presents a vague fictional portrait of a young Mae Jemison, whose parents support her dream of becoming an astronaut; their advice (“If you can dream it, if you believe it and work hard for it, anything is possible”) becomes the book’s refrain. Ahmed hints at the sexist attitudes Jemison was up against: Mae’s classmates laugh when she reveals that she wants to be an astronaut, and her skeptical teacher tells her, “Nursing would be a good profession for someone like you.” Newcomer Burrington’s spare illustrations combine watery splashes of color with collaged elements; her characters’ rounded heads and minimal facial features give them an emoji-like appearance but don’t do much to bring emotion to the story. An afterword provides some details about Jemison’s career and various firsts she accomplished, including becoming the first African-American woman in space, but this is less a picture book biography than a generic ode to persistence and dreaming big, loosely tied to Jemison’s life. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Margaret Riley King, William Morris Endeavor. (Jan.)