Brown, Don. “The Moon Landing.” New York: Amulet Books, 2019.
Don Brown is back with the first book in a promising new graphic novel series called Big Ideas. Rather than a biography, the series tracks the progress of an idea and introduces the people in the context of the idea, not the other way around; it’s an approach that works well.
The first installment, “The Moon Landing,” explores rockets, where they came from, and the pivotal people and moments that moved that big idea along. Players and events weave in and out of the story: the invention of gun powder in China; a mention in America’s national anthem; Julies Verne’s book “From the Earth to the Moon,” the inspiration of many a rocket scientist; and dare devil Rodman Law’s attempt at flying in a rocket in 1913. His attempt was unsuccessful (it involved lighting a fuse), but on the upside, he does get to narrate the rest of “The Moon Landing” as we make our way through the 20th Century, all the way to the trials and completion of the Apollo program in 1972. There isn’t a focus on any one person, the focus is all on the progress of rockets.
The drawings are clear and work well with the text and witty dialog from Rodman. There are lessons on grit, on the process of creating, trial and error, and enduring the criticism of skeptics. The design also shows how people build on ideas and what can inspire them. Brown directly acknowledges the lack of diversity in the story of the rocket and concisely explains the reasons for it. He doesn’t shy away from the dangers of space travel, or the realities of what happened to the animals that were sent into space, either.
Available in March 2019, “The Moon Landing” is a necessary addition to any upper elementary and middle school library with students who are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the 50th anniversaries of all the Apollo missions. Two thumbs up!
Dewey: 620 Interest Level: Grades 3-7
Reviews and Awards: None yet.
Younger readers might like: “Daring Dozen: The Twelve Who Walked on the Moon” by Suzanne Slade (release date March 12, 2019).
Older readers might like: “Apollo 8: The Mission that Changed Everything” by Martin W. Sandler
Fiction pairing: “From the Earth to the Moon” by Jules Verne
On the Web:
NASA at www.nasa.gov. There is so much here! One highlight is Spot the Station, which shows when the Space Station will be visible from anywhere. There are apps, NASA TV, and awesome resources for educators and students.
Apollo Archive at http://www.apolloarchive.com/ has recordings of communications, countdowns, etc., during the Apollo mission, including the famous Apollo 13 “Houston, we’ve had a problem” conversation.
See a rocket launch live at Kennedy Space Center (kennedyspacecenter.com). The next launch is December 18, 2018.