Rocket Boys

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Rocket Boys
Rocketboyshardcover.jpg
First U.S. edition cover
AuthorHomer Hickam, Jr.
CountryUnited States
GenreMemoir
PublisherDelacorte Press (United States)
Pages384
ISBNISBN 0-385-33320-X (hardcover edition)
OCLC Number38959691
Dewey Decimal629.1/092/273 B 21
LC ClassificationTL789.85.H53 A3 1998
Followed byThe Coalwood Way
 
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Rocket Boys
Rocketboyshardcover.jpg
First U.S. edition cover
AuthorHomer Hickam, Jr.
CountryUnited States
GenreMemoir
PublisherDelacorte Press (United States)
Pages384
ISBNISBN 0-385-33320-X (hardcover edition)
OCLC Number38959691
Dewey Decimal629.1/092/273 B 21
LC ClassificationTL789.85.H53 A3 1998
Followed byThe Coalwood Way

Rocket Boys (also known as October Sky) is the first memoir in a series of three, by Homer Hickam, Jr. It is a story of growing up in a mining town, and a boy's pursuit of amateur rocketry in a coal mining town. It won the W.D. Weatherford Award in 1998, the year of its release.[1] Today, it is one of the most often picked community/library reads in the United States. It is also studied in many school systems around the world. Rocket Boys was followed by The Coalwood Way (2000) and Sky of Stone (2002).

Rocket Boys was made into a film in 1999, titled October Sky (an anagram of "Rocket Boys"). The book was then re-published as October Sky shortly afterwards.

Plot summary[edit]

Homer "Sonny" Hickam, Jr. lived in a small coal mining town in West Virginia named Coalwood. Sonny, after seeing the Russian satellite Sputnik, decides to join the American team of rocket engineers called the Army Ballistic Missile Agency when he graduates from school. (Note: In the book Rocket Boys, the main character is always called Sonny. In the movie October Sky, he is called Homer.) Sonny's older brother, Jim Hickam, excelled at football and expected to get a college football scholarship. Sonny, however, was terrible at sports and had no special skill that would get him "out of Coalwood". Sonny's mother was afraid that he would have to work in the mines after high school. Sonny's first attempt at rocketry consisted of a flashlight tube and model airplane body as a casing that was fueled by flash powder from old cherry bombs. It exploded violently, thus destroying his mother's fence. After that, Sonny enlisted the help of Quentin Wilson, Roy Lee Cooke, Sherman Siers, Jimmy "O'Dell" Carroll, and Billy Rose to help build rockets while forming the BCMA (Big Creek Missile Agency). Their first real rocket, powered by black powder, was named Auk 1. This an allusion to the Great Auk, which is a flightless sea bird that became extinct in the mid-19th century. Auk 1 flew six feet before the solder melted and the nozzle, a washer, separated from the casement which subsequently gave the name of the group and book. They called themselves "Rocket Boys" and called the place they were launching their rockets from "Cape Coalwood", in honor of Cape Canaveral. The Rocket Boys enjoyed mixed success during their three year rocket launching campaign (1957 to 1960). They employed several fuel mixtures including rocket candy and a mixture called "zincoshine", which was composed of zinc dust and sulfur, along with alcohol made by a local bootlegger as a binder for the mixture. They launched a total of 35 rockets all sequentially numbered Auk I–XXXI. (There were five different Auk XXIIs.) They also won a National Science Fair gold medal for their rockets, for their project titled "A Study of Amateur Rocketry Techniques".

Characters[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Weatherford Award". Retrieved August 12, 2007.