ARE YOU A STUDENT INTERESTED IN HOMER'S BOOKS?
Welcome, students of Homer Hickam's works. Many schools across the nation and world are studying Homer's books, especially his first memoir, Rocket Boys also known as October Sky. This page is designed to help you.
First, if you have only seen the movie October Sky, we hope you understand that it is not the complete story of Homer's Rocket Boys adventure and that some of it is not accurate. That's OK. It's still a cool movie! However, you will not be able to do your homework or write truthfully about Homer's boyhood if you have only seen the film. You must read the book. That's OK, too. It's a really cool book! We think you will like it even more than the movie.
OK, so how can you get more information on the book? Well, there were actually three books in what we call the "Coalwood Trilogy." Rocket Boys (also called October Sky to match the movie title), The Coalwood Way, and Sky of Stone. All are great books you will enjoy reading. Go to our Books page to find out more about them.
If you'd like to see photographs of the real Rocket Boys, then and now, and also learn more about the little town of Coalwood, West Virginia, where they grew up, go to our extensive Coalwood page.
Be sure to go to all of our other sections for more cool stuff including our Movies page which has a lot about the film, October Sky.
ARE YOU A STUDENT WHO WANTS TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HOMER AND HIS LIFE STORY?
Click here to read his biography.
Also, please visit our FAQ page for Homer's answers to many general questions about his life and times.
DO YOU WANT TO WRITE TO HOMER?
Our Contact Us page will tell you how to write to Homer either by email (preferred) or snail mail (very slow). Please understand that although Homer reads every letter he gets, he cannot respond personally to all of them or answer individual questions…and he especially will not do your homework for you. Since he is always writing or off having adventures, there just isn't time. However, his wife and assistant Linda Terry Hickam would be glad to send a single group letter in response to the comments and questions of an entire class. There are guidelines for your teacher to help you do this on the Educators page. Please tell your teacher about this. If every student in your class sends a separate letter or email to us, we have difficulty responding.
A hint for any snail mail request: Whenever anyone is considerate enough to send a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) for a reply with their letter... THAT person's letter goes to the top of a large stack! . The mail is forwarded and that takes a long time, so be patient.
Please also keep Linda from having to stay up past midnight helping you do your homework. Don't procrastinate, then send us an email saying you can't find out where Homer went to school, or something like that, and your report is due tomorrow!!
DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED PICTURE OF HOMER?
Requests from TEACHERS for the class only will be honored.
Please advise your teacher to send the request on a school letterhead with a SASE (At least an 8 1/2 X 11 manila envelope with oversize postage) to the address on the Contact Us page.
Your teacher will receive a signed photo and letter to their school or class. We're really sorry that individual requests cannot be honored due to the time and expense.
We hope you understand.
DO YOU WANT TO BUY AN AUTOGRAPHED BOOK?
Please go to our Home page and look down at the bottom.
There you will find the address, phone number, and e-mail of our good friend's book store, where John Shaver will help you purchase a personalized and autographed book from Homer.
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN BECOMING A WRITER?
Homer gives advice on writing here.
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT SCIENCE FAIRS?
Homer's participation in the 1960 National Science Fair was very important to him, the other Rocket Boys, his home town, his school, and his teachers. We think Science Fairs are a lot of fun and hope you will consider getting involved in them. Here is a good site to learn more:
IPL Kidspace - A Resource Guide for Science Fair Projects
The most difficult part about participating in a science fair project can be the decision on what it should be about. You should be careful not to choose a project that is too simple or common or that does not satisfy the requirements of the particular science fair. The above guide will assist you.
WHERE CAN I GET A COPY OF THE ROCKET BOOK THE ROCKET BOYS USED?
Principles of Guided Missile Design (Aerodynamics, Propulsion, Structures and Design Practice) by Bonney, Zucrow, and Besserer (edited by Merrill) D. Van Nostrand Co, Inc. 1956 is no longer in print.
It might be found on a used book search or Shaver's Bookstore (256-523-1604) can find it for you, but it is expensive.
The book is over 40 years old so actually the internet is probably your best information on rocketry.
We have some links to the right.
IS THE BOOK CALLED OCTOBER SKY OR ROCKET BOYS?
The names are confusing to some, so let us explain. The actual title of
Homer's first memoir is Rocket Boys and it is the one he prefers.
However, Universal Studios decided, for marketing reasons, to change the
name of the movie based on the book. After much deliberation, Universal
discovered that October Sky was an anagram of Rocket Boys (if you move
the letters of Rocket Boys around, they spell out October Sky). Since
Sputnik flew through the October sky when Homer (Sonny) first saw it, the
movie studio latched onto the new title. The mass market movie tie-in
paperback, the one with the orange and black cover, is the only version
of the memoir which is titled October Sky. October Sky and Rocket Boys
are both the same book ... and the same letters too!