Tosa All-City Read: Rocket Boys and October Sky

Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (an old-city inner-ring suburb of Milwaukee), is having its inaugural “all-city read” this month.  Children ages 8-12 are reading a fantasy adventure, and people ages 13+ are reading Rocket Boys, the 1998 memoir by retired NASA engineer Homer Hickam, Jr.

Born and raised in Coalwood, West Virginia, Hickam writes an engaging account of his coming of age in an Appalachian mining town during the 1950s Sputnik era, when he and his friends built and launched rockets into space.

Wauwatosa has many activities planned for the month related to the two selected books and to reading in general.  One activity I found especially neat was an afternoon and evening of building sessions at the local Home Depot where families could build their own Little Free Library box.  Home Depot provided the pre-cut and pre-drilled lumber and helped with assembly, leaving the final staining or painting to be completed at home.

I am honored and excited to be a part of Tosa’s All-City Read, as well.  On Thursday, February 20, there will be a screening of October Sky, the film adaptation of Rocket Boys, at The Rosebud Cinema on North Avenue in Wauwatosa, with a discussion afterward of both book and film led by yours truly.

I’m not sure how many people to expect yet, so I haven’t decided on the best format for running the discussion.  I know I can lead a group of 40 people in one big discussion, because I do it all the time at MSOE’s Great Books events.  But if we have 80 or more people, maybe it would be better to encourage smaller discussions.

My dilemma: which would feel like a more satisfying experience for the participants?  One large, all-inclusive performance-type experience where I am the “show”?  Or several smaller and more intimate conversations simultaneously occurring throughout the theater, which I could walk around and facilitate?  This is a theater with small tables, couches, and recliners, by the way, instead of the usual rows of seats.

If you were attending this event, which do you think you’d prefer?

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
This entry was posted in Books and reading, History, Milwaukee, Movies and film, Popular culture, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tosa All-City Read: Rocket Boys and October Sky

  1. paulrwaibel says:

    I would prefer the one large group with you as “the show.” I do not like small group discussions. I hope it goes well for you. If I lived in the area, I would attend. I liked the movie, but I have not read the book.


    • Thank you for sharing your preference, Paul. I hope that if it’s a larger group than I’m used to everyone who wants to talk will get to. But I also know that many people just enjoy just listening to what others have to say, too. So it should all work out 🙂


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