To commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this substantial-sized volume is filled with conversational and quote-filled accounts of all 12 of the piloted Apollo missions. The text is full of surprising facts, heroic actions, and life-threatening moments. After a brief overview of the space program, starting in 1957, the book moves sequentially, one chapter per mission, beginning with a description of the tragic fire inside the command module of Apollo One that killed all three astronauts during a practice countdown on January 27, 1967.
The icing on the cake, book-wise, is not just the splendid collection of photographs, but also the stunning inclusion of spectacular full-page oil paintings by astronaut Alan Bean (the fourth man to walk on the moon), who became an artist after retiring from NASA. Each painting—of the moon, the Earth from space, the spacecraft, and the astronauts on the moon—is captioned with Bean’s description of the story behind it.
Pair the book with Brian Floca’s Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, and then learn why there were no women aboard any U.S. space flights in Tanya Lee Stone’s Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. Andrew Chaikin was a consultant on the 12-part miniseries Tom Hanks did for HBO in 1999, From the Earth to the Moon, which is worth seeing, as are the fabulous movies, The Right Stuff (1983) and Apollo 13 (1995), for older viewers, as both are rated PG.
Reviewed by JF.
THEMES: ASTRONAUTS. MOON.
Viking Juvenile, 2009
Suggested Ages: 9 and up