Marianne J. Dyson

Review of Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

Reviewed by: Marianne Dyson, April 2009

I've read dozens of books about the first landing on the Moon, and Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca, is definitely one of the very best. The text is just plain fantastic, and the art, breathtaking. With 2009 being the International Year of Astronomy, and the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, this book is also well-timed.

The author is a skilled poet who consistently chooses just the right words to evoke the rhythm and pulse of spacecraft and their human masters riding them into the great unknown, without getting overly sentimental. For example, here is a scene from inside the spacecraft on its way to the Moon: "Here where everything floats, it takes some skill to go to sleep. There are no bed or pillows, no night or day. There is always though, the hum of circuits, the whirr of machines, the thought of where you are, and the thought of where you are going."

Unlike the somewhat stark cover of the book, the interior art explodes with color and detail. The liftoff image with the Saturn V rising up out of the clouds is worthy of the finest art gallery. Not only are the illustrations accurate (even the phases of the Earth and Moon are correctly portrayed), but they aptly reveal the drama and danger of the journey while the text remains somewhat clipped and controlled, like the astronauts themselves.

The text and the art do far more than just tell the story of Apollo 11: they propel the reader to the Moon and back without sacrificing any scientific accuracy or historical facts. Parents and grandparents who read this book to their children should be warned--they will want to go again, to clutch the controls and see "a spray of dust, a bloom of moon" flower up under them as they share landing on the Moon for their first time. Let's hope they don't have to wait another 40 years for that to happen!

Moonshot is accurate, clearly written, contains an appropriate level of detail, is wonderfully designed and illustrated, and earns a full 6 points for excellence. I encourage every space enthusiast with children to buy at least one copy to experience liftoff with the crew of Apollo 11 and an utterly captivating first journey to the Moon.

Title: Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
Author/Illustrator: Brian Floca
Ages: 4-8
Number of Pages: 48
Format: hardback
Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
Date: April 2009
Retail Price: $17.99
ISBN: 141695046X

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