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The Astrochimps: America’s First Astronauts

The Astrochimps: America’s First Astronauts

By Dawn CusickPublisher: Chicago Review PressISBN: 978-1641608954Genre: narrative nonfiction (juvenile)Price: $19.99 hardback; $10.49 Kindle
Available from: Bookshop

When the United States was scrambling to catch up to the Soviets after their successful launch of Sputnik, they didn't turn to Mercury Seven astronauts Alan Shepard and John Glenn. Rather, they began bringing chimpanzees to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico for a top-secret program. The goal? To do everything America needed to make space travel safe for humans and beat the Soviets.

Based on extensive research and interviews with living members of the team of veterinarians, handlers, and psychologists who worked with the animals, The Astrochimps offers a fresh perspective on animal intelligence and the rise of the space age. Detailed back matter provides resources, space mission stats, and calls to action for young readers to honor the astrochimps' legacy and advocate for the humane treatment of chimpanzees today.

Dawn Cusick is the author of Animal Eggs, Bug Butts, and Get the Scoop on Animal Poop, among her many titles aimed at young activists, reluctant readers, and animal lovers. Her books have been named a Best Children's Book of the Year by Bank Street College of Education, an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the NSTA, a National Children's Choice finalist, and more. She lives in Clyde, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she teaches general biology and zoology courses at Haywood Community College.


Usually relegated to brief mentions in histories of the space race, the NASA program’s chimps take center stage here as Cusick draws on a mix of interviews and archival sources to present a vividly portrayed, meticulously researched picture of their strenuous training and experiences… All hail these pioneering primates!

Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

By touching on subjects of animal rights and experimentation, as well as gender equity within Homo sapiens society, Cusick breathes life into a seldom heard story and reminds readers that while ‘we cannot undo the past… we can create a new future.’

Publishers Weekly