i‑Learner Education Centre

Teacher Diaries

Teacher Diaries: Mr. Iain – Non-Ficiton

When thinking of non-fiction, one might be tempted to think of large dusty volumes containing page after page of dry listings of facts and events. This certainly isn’t the whole story for non-fiction. We here at i-Learner use a range of different non-fiction books as part of various courses. Examples of this are illustrated children’s history books or illustrated children’s encyclopedias. These are great resources to get children interested in a topic they may otherwise have very little understanding of.

In the same vein adult non-fiction books too can be entertaining, even amusing at times. With that being said I’d like to recommend one particular book I’ve been reading recently: Ignition by John Drury Clark. The book’s subtitle gives us a better idea of what it’s about – An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants. Clark worked as a chemist in the rocket industry in America in the 50s and 60s. During this time he helped develop some of the most dangerous, explosive and sometimes the smelliest chemicals known to man. These rocket fuels were eventually what got Neil Armstrong and the others to the moon in 1969.

The book can be quite chemistry heavy but Clark’s descriptions are clear and often humorously understated when describing the rather large mishaps and explosions which occurred at his and his colleagues’ labs as they search for the perfect recipe to take men into space. If that sounds like your cup of tea or you’d like to know more about the history of this specific part of rocketry then I recommend this book to you. You can even read it online if you’d like! Ignition: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants by John Drury Clark