MOONSHOT: THE FLIGHT OF APOLLO 11,
by Brian Floca
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Ages 4 and up
A Richard Jackson Book | Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Simon & Schuster Children's Books
Simply told, grandly shown, here is the flight of Apollo 11. Here for a new generation of readers and explorers are the steady astronauts, clicking themselves into gloves and helmets, strapping themselves into sideways seats. Here are their great machines in all their detail and monumentality, the ROAR of rockets, and the silence of the Moon. Here is a story of adventure and discovery—a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away.
• A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
• A New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year selection
• A Society of Illustrators Silver Medal winner
• Winner of the 2010 Flora Stieglitz Straus Award
• Finalist for the Children’s Choice Book Award Book of the Year Award (5th to 6th Grade)
• Finalist for the Indies Choice Book Awards New Picture Book/Book of the Year Award
• An American Library Association Notable Children’s Book
• A Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2009 selection
• A Booklist Editors’ Choice 2009 selection
• A School Library Journal Best Books 2009 selection
• A Horn Book Magazine Fanfare Best Books of 2009 selection
• A Book Links Lasting Connections of 2009 selection
• A New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2009 selection
• A Washington Post Best Kids' Books of 2009 selection
• A Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 2009 Blue Ribbon selection
• A CCBC Choices 2010 selection
• A Smithsonian Notable Book for Children 2009 selection
• A Barnes and Noble Review Best Picture Books of 2009 selection
• Finalist for the 2009 Cybil Award for Non-Fiction/Information Books
• A finalist for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Prizes for Excellence in Science Books for children and young adults
• An Indie Booksellers Summer 2009 Kids' List selection
• A 2009 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Award Winner
• A 2011 Kentucky Bluegrass Award Master List Selection
• A 2010-2011 Red Clover Award nominee (Vermont’s picture book award)
• A 2012 Monarch Award nominee (Illinois’ K-3 readers’ choice award)
• An Amazon.com Essential Books for Age 7 - Age 8 selection
• A 2012 Grand Canyon Reader Award (AZ) nonfiction nominee
• A Georgia Picture Storybook Award Nominee (2012-2013)
• A Time Out New York Kids 50 Best Books for Kids selection
“Reading Moonshot gave me the feeling I was back up in space.”
Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot, Apollo 11
“Moonshot is a treat to look at and enjoy. The art is very accurate, in fact more accurate than I can remember seeing anywhere else. There is little that is not complex and confusing about space hardware, yet Moonshot gets it right. Very wonderful art in every way.”
Alan Bean, Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 12
“Moonshot is well done and should receive a warm welcome from many space age boys and girls.”
James Lovell, Command Module Pilot, Apollo 8; Commander, Apollo 13
“Moonshot is wonderful for keeping the dream alive for young people.”
Edgar Mitchell, Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 14
“The most significant legacy of Apollo is the inspiration it instills in the hearts and minds of those young dreamers who follow in our footsteps. Moonshot furthers the romance of once again going where no man has gone before.”
Gene Cernan, Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 10; Commander, Apollo 17
Kirkus Reviews (starred review):
“A dizzying, masterful command of visual pacing combines with an acute sense of verbal rhythms to provide a glorious account of the Apollo 11 mission, one that stands as the must-buy in this crowded lunar season. Each page turn presents a surprise: A spread with six horizontal panels showing rocket, bystanders and astronauts during countdown yields to a close-up of the thrusters firing at liftoff and then to a perfectly sublime long shot that positions a tiny Saturn V rocket pulling away from the launch pad above a serenely massive Earth, its curve clearly visible in the horizon of the blue Atlantic—“ROAR.” Floca’s language, in one of his longer texts, is equally gorgeous: “And when the Earth / has rolled beneath / and rolled behind / and let the astronauts go, / the Saturn’s last stage opens wide...” Humor lightly applied provides the necessary grounding touch to this larger-than-human endeavor without ever taking away its sense of moment. The front endpapers give detail-loving readers diagrams and a pictorial chronology; the back endpapers contain a brief history of NASA’s lunar program. Breathtaking, thrilling and perfect.”
Booklist (starred review):
“Forty years after NASA’s Apollo 11 mission first landed astronauts on the moon, this striking nonfiction picture book takes young readers along for the ride. The moon shines down on Earth, where three men don spacesuits, climb into Columbia, and wait for liftoff. On a nearby beach, people gather to watch the rocket blast the astronauts into space. The astronauts fly to the moon, circle it, land on it, walk on its surface, and see “the good and lonely Earth, glowing in the sky.” After flying back to the orbiter, they return to Earth and splash down, “home at last.” An appended note discusses the mission in greater detail. Written with quiet dignity and a minimum of fuss, the main text is beautifully illustrated with line-and-wash artwork that provides human interest, technological details, and some visually stunning scenes. The book’s large format offers plenty of scope for double-page illustrations, and Floca makes the most of it, using the sequential nature of picture books to set up the more dramatic scenes and give them human context. The moving image of Earth seen from the moon, for instance, is preceded by a picture of a lone astronaut looking up. A handsome, intelligent book with a jacket that’s well-nigh irresistible.” Carolyn Phelan.
School Library Journal (starred review):
“Large in trim size as well as topic, this stirring account retraces Apollo 11's historic mission in brief but precise detail, and also brilliantly captures the mighty scope and drama of the achievement. Rendered in delicate lines and subtly modulated watercolors, the eye-filling illustrations allow viewers to follow the three astronauts as they lumber aboard their spacecraft for the blastoff and ensuing weeklong journey ("…there's no fresh air outside the window;/after a week this small home will not smell so good./This is not why anyone/wants to be an astronaut"). They split up so that two can make their famous sortie, and then reunite for the return to "the good and lonely Earth,/glowing in the sky." Floca enhances his brief, poetic main text with an opening spread that illustrates each component of Apollo 11, and a lucid closing summary of the entire Apollo program that, among other enlightening facts, includes a comment from Neil Armstrong about what he said versus what he meant to say when he stepped onto the lunar surface. Consider this commemoration of the first Moon landing's 40th anniversary as a spectacular alternative for younger readers to Catherine Thimmesh's Team Moon (Houghton, 2006).” John Peters.
The Horn Book Magazine (starred review):
“This fortieth anniversary year of the moon landing will likely see many books published on the topic; Floca’s visually sublime picture book will rise above most. Clearly he has researched his subject thoroughly, as indicated by the opening timeline and diagram on one set of end pages, the source notes opposite the title page, and the extended discussion on the closing end pages. Yet Floca distills all of his gathered knowledge into a concise text, selecting the exact details to transform science into relatable experience: “Here below / there are three men / who close themselves / in special clothes, / who—click—lock hands / in heavy gloves, / who—click—lock heads / in large, round helmets.” Throughout the book Floca engages the reader both with his spare lyricism and with his watercolor and ink pictures. He uses the format to perfection, with large pictures to communicate size, power, and perspective; sequenced panels to show steps unfolding; and small pictures to catch particular moments. The artistry in book design and illustration is demonstrated by such stunning double-page spreads as the one containing the word “LIFTOFF,” which shows just the bottom of the immense rocket as it begins to rise. Libraries will be dismayed by endpapers covered in important information, some of which may get covered up; but the heart of the book is complete and intact within, allowing children to be drawn into the wonder of the first moonwalk.” Susan Dove Lempke.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review):
Reviewed with One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh, Illustrated by Mike Wimmer (Philomel) “This pair of picture books, each featuring a poetic text that fairly begs to be read aloud, will be even better savored by independent readers who will delight in the authors’ carefully crafted storytelling while lingering over the visual renderings of the first manned moon landing. Burleigh offers a bit more emphasis on the personal fears of the astronauts as they take their pioneering leap into space (“July 21. Unease. Uncertainty….Liftoff in one minute. Away from here—maybe”), and he presses the role of Command and Service Module pilot Michael Collins a bit further into the limelight. Wimmer’s accompanying oil paintings are more traditionally dramatic, with the near-photorealistic portrayals of the astronauts making activity inside the cramped module feel personal and immediate. From his line-and-watercolor cartoon-style illustrations, Floca’s take on the mission seems at first to be considerably less nerve-wracking, but he actually transfers much of the dramatic focus to the millions of Earthbound viewers who gnawed their nails in anxiety for the crew’s safety and success (“Armstrong, calling from the Moon, calm as a man who has just parked a car. ‘Houston,’ he says. ‘Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.’ Armstrong is calm—but on Earth they cheer!”). If Floca’s opus wins by a nose, it is because of his inclusion of technically detailed endpapers of the spacecraft and more copious supplementary notes. However, the complementary points of view of these two titles offer readers a stirring, you-are-there recreation of the mission that will give elementary schoolers insight into why the grandparents rattle on about “that day” in July of ’69.”
“Floca's rendition of Apollo 11's journey to the moon is as poetic as it is historically resonant. The first page offers a quiet meditation: “High above/ there is the Moon,/ cold and quiet,/ no air, no life,/ but glowing in the sky,” followed by the astronauts preparing for the voyage and then a dramatic liftoff (“The rocket is released!”). Once in space, the lunar module, Eagle—“a stranger ship, more bug than bird,/ a black and gold and folded spider”—locks onto the Columbia. The subdued illustrations hold an undercurrent of emotion (as a family hears the report that the Eagle has landed safely, the father wipes his eyes with awe and relief). A stirring depiction of a momentous event.”
The New York Times Book Review:
“In watercolors, ink and acrylics, Floca lays out colorfully and succinctly how the Apollo 11 mission unfolded. Crew and machinery are equally brought to life. One second before liftoff an astronaut gives a sidelong glance, full of suspense, and then . . . page turn: the rocket blasting off fills the spread (seeming to weigh every bit of its six million pounds). Inside, the airborne capsule is homey, with stuff floating around, in contrast to the black ink of space.” Julie Just.
“Clearly written and gorgeously illustrated, it’s perfect for helping little ones understand what happened in space 40 years ago this month.”
The Washington Post:
“On the cover, a precisely detailed spacecraft floats buoyantly among the stars, pointing toward a crescent moon. Inside, a lush earth-shaped vignette floats on an empty page, its borders enclosing a woodland field. Beginning with these quiet scenes, readers take a journey through the shattering double-page spread at "LIFTOFF!" to the moment when all eyes swing full circle to view "the good and lonely Earth,/glowing in the sky." Woven into the astronauts' historic 1969 journey is another, more domestic one: A family follows the mission's progress, staring aloft on the title page, then later hunching toward their television and finally exploding with relief as the Eagle lands safely. No journey is complete, however, without a return, and the final two pages pair the drama of splashdown with another glimpse of that field, the family now busy creating their own version of space flight on a more human scale. If this were all, it would be enough, but carefully designed endpapers pack in additional information for budding scientists to enjoy. And while the illustrations speak eloquently of the wonders of science, the free verse text positively sings. Within a single sentence, facts (the rocket is 30 stories high and weighs 6 million pounds) and artistry ("a tower full of fuel and fire") keep company. In this beautiful amalgam of science and poetry, words, set free from gravity, merge into images that reverberate and soar.” Kristi Jemtegaard.
“Look carefully at the domestic scenes of a family watching television for perfect dioramas of late ‘60s living rooms.... Notice that, after the landing announcement, Dad has taken his glasses off: He has cried, tears of relief, joy, excitement. The book proceeds quietly, but it manages to summon up that emotional storm as well.” Mary Harris Russell.
A Fuse #8 Production:
“I hate to admit this but I don't think I ever really had a great visual sense of how it all worked. Should I? Is that required of every fine upstanding American citizen? Maybe not, but how can you really get a sense of the moon landing if you don’t know what it looked like? To the rescue comes Brian Floca with Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11. Essentially Brian has written a book that works for every human being between the ages of 4 to 104 (sorry, 105-year-olds). Poetic, scientifically accurate, interesting, mesmerizing, you name it. The man has penned a little old masterpiece here, just in time for the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. You’ve lots of space flight picture books to choose from this year, but if I had to pick just one for my children’s library shelves, it would be this.” Elizabeth Bird. Full review here.
“Floca (Lightship) masterfully balances poetry and science in this picture-book homage to the voyage of Apollo 11. "High above/ there is the Moon,/ cold and quiet,/ no air, no life,/ but glowing in the sky," the narrative begins. Next Floca introduces the three astronauts--the "click" of hands locking into heavy gloves, the "click" of heads locking into large, round helmets, and the "click" of straps fastening and the hatch being sealed.... As with any great work of poetry, the visual imagery and the pacing of the text hold the key to Floca's success. He leavens the astronauts' seriousness of purpose with details about the perils of eating and eliminating in weightless space, and characterizes Armstrong and Aldrin's stroll on the Moon with a childlike glee: "They step, they hop./ As light as boys,/ they lope, they leap!"...Endpapers feature cutaway views of the rocket and all its stages, and offer a timeline of events; meticulous source notes make this a fine reference for youngest researchers, scientists and space fans. In these 48 pages, Floca makes an indelible impression of how those brief eight days in July, 40 years ago, changed history. Jennifer M. Brown. Full review here.