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The final chapter in the book before the epilog finishes with the launch of the last rocket of the Big Creek Missile Agency. Homer Senior is invited to launch this rocket. Why do you think this invitation was made?

From Rocket Boys to October Sky

Why do you think he accepted? Commentary: Coalwood had a distinct role for each person who lived there. In order to live in the town, it was required that the head of the household work for the mine in some capacity. The exceptions to this were the teachers at the Coalwood School. Even the preachers were company men! Commentary: A memoir is, as its title implies, a memory of long-ago events. He has a great sense of drama and believes that all of his books should be entertaining page-turners. Homer realized early on into writing the book that to simply write down the sequential reality of rocket launches, incidents at the mine, the comings and goings of his friends, his parents, and other Coalwood citizens was not the best way to reveal the truths of the story.

To bring Coalwood alive required careful crafting including, in some isolated cases, composite characters. How can you remember what somebody said or did forty years ago? All I know is I do. It felt very strange to him to be called by this name at first. Coalwood, then, is a microcosm of this tendency.


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Standing nearly alone against this tide was Homer Senior who believed in the town and knew it would die if its children left. Commentary: It was a disappointment to Homer that the movie October Sky portrayed the women as rather weak when he believes they were the strongest people in the story. They vary from astronauts to coal miners to just about everybody, young and old. Commentary: Homer is always pleased when teachers and students write and tell him how much they enjoyed studying his book s. They do miss Sherman, though. He was a soothing influence to their passionate personalities!

He stresses that planning in a sequential, incremental way is very important in reaching your dreams. Commentary: Today, after a long period of decline, Coalwood lives again! Tourists visit Coalwood every month and the people there take great delight in showing them all the sites in the book. Please see our SHOP button on www.

In fact, there were never any scholarships offered at any of the Science Fairs they entered nor did they receive any. Still, despite the differences between the book and the movie, we recommend you see the film. It is wonderfully and artfully made and is very motivational. It might also be an interesting discussion to figure out why Hollywood felt the need to change the story. Commentary: Homer held back writing this scene until the very last although he wanted to write it more than any other. It was, he says, a gift to himself to finally write it down and savor that moment.

Even though he was only seven years old at the time and living in a small coal mining town in West Virginia. Writing, however, continued to his passion throughout life. There was, however, a slight deviation when he also decided he wanted to be an engineer. This he did, even eventually working for NASA, though he continued to write on the side. Today, he is the author of seventeen books, all best-sellers, including the internationally acclaimed memoir Rocket Boys which was made into the award winning film October Sky. Life these days is exciting for Homer Hickam.

He vigorously pursues his hobby of amateur paleontology, otherwise known as dinosaur bone-hunting. Readers will also be alongside the director, producers, actors, and crew as they create one of the most beloved movies ever. The book has lots of photos taken on the various sets, too! Hickam, Jr. Our students have been through so much. Faced with an uncertain future, Homer Hickam nurtured a dream: to send rockets into outer space.

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As the boys began to light up the tarry skies with their flaming projectiles and dreams of glory, Coalwood, and the Hickams, would never be the same. He is a full-time writer and lives in Huntsville, Alabama with his wife Linda and their four cats. Other books include the nonfiction work Torpedo Junction , which was a Military History Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and the novel Back to the Moon , presently in development for a feature Hollywood movie. As you read this memoir, did you begin to feel as if you knew the people involved?

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Did you like them? If you had, what position in it would you have wanted? Coal miner? Rocket Boy or Girl?

From Rocket Boys to October Sky

Football Star? Commentary : Coalwood had a distinct role for each person who lived there. In order to live in the town, it was required that the head of the household work for the mine in some capacity. The exceptions to this were the teachers at the Coalwood School. Even the preachers were company men! What do you think of the memoir genre? Do you think it might be difficult to write a memoir that is interesting to readers?

Commentary : A memoir is, as its title implies, a memory of long-ago events. He has a great sense of drama and believes that all of his books should be entertaining page-turners. This required even more work during the creation of the book since each "real" event had to be written in such a way that it was interesting and stimulating and fit within an overall pattern. Homer realized early on into writing the book that to simply write down the sequential reality of rocket launches, incidents at the mine, the comings and goings of his friends, his parents, and other Coalwood citizens was not the best way to reveal the truths of the story.

To bring Coalwood alive required careful crafting including, in some isolated cases, composite characters. In his note in the follow-up memoir, The Coalwood Way , he wrote: "Memoirs are tough things to write. How can you remember what somebody said or did forty years ago? All I know is I do. Also see www. How would you describe this book? Were you fearful it might be too technical?

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Is it just a story of a boy with a dream or the story of a small mining town? Or is it something grander and deeper? Commentary : Homer has always said he used the rockets as a metaphor to tell the true story of life in the coal fields of West Virginia, but he also had something else in mind, a weaving of many allegorical themes that begin loosely connected but are gradually wound tighter and tighter until they become as one. Can you spot those themes? Do you think Homer Senior and Elsie love each other?

Rocket Boys (October Sky) Chapter 4

What is the principle cause of their conflicts? What is the importance of the mural Elsie is painting in the kitchen? Why is Homer Junior called "Sonny" in the book? Why did his teachers insist on calling him by that nickname rather than the one his mother wanted? It felt very strange to him to be called by this name at first.

He says when people called him "Homer," he kept looking over his shoulder for his father!