Foreword Reviews

Four Picture Books for Your Apollo 11 Celebration

First Moon Landing image

July 20, 2019 is the semicentennial of the moon landing—-an event so momentous that it still inspires awe and introspection about our place among the stars. In the fifty years since human beings first stepped foot on another celestial body, a lot has changed, but our thirst for space exploration has not. If you’re planning to use Apollo 11’s anniversary to celebrate where we landed, or to think about how far we still have to go, these four children’s titles could help you to do that, and to inspire space exploration dreams in the next generation.

Moon’s First Friends

One Giant Leap for Friendship

Book Cover
Susanna Leonard Hill
Elisa Paganelli, illustrator
Sourcebooks Wonderland
Hardcover $17.99 (40pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

With subtle celebrations of exploration and inventiveness, Moon’s First Friends works toward the Apollo 11 landing from a singular perspective: that of the moon upon which the vessel landed. The beautiful, lonely moon waits for her eventual visitors for millions of years, shining in the heavens and down on Earth with the hope that the creatures beneath her will come up to meet her. But despite her welcoming, glittering glow, creatures from dinosaurs to the first humans do not come to visit.

When Apollo shows up with its astronauts and flag, the moon is all too ready to bestow them with blooms of moon dust and gifts in return—all in hope that someone else will be charmed, too, and come to visit in their wake. A QR code at the front adds an interactive element: young readers charmed by the stars will be able to scan it and hear voices from the actual Apollo 11 mission.


The Skies Above My Eyes

Book Cover
Charlotte Gullain
Yuval Zommer, illustrator
words & pictures
Hardcover $22.95 (20pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

This clever fold-out title begins with a girl on Earth whose body may be bound by gravity, but whose imagination is not. Her eyes starry, she looks up, up, up to the sky, her sight passing children in the apartments above her, skyscrapers under construction and growing taller, a helicopter and then a high-flying plane—all the way to a rocket crossing the bounds of Earth’s atmosphere. Journey with her as her mind’s eye focuses on satellites, the space station, astronauts tumbling joyfully in space, and yes, travels all the way to the moon. But the adventure doesn’t stop there, and the audience won’t be able to help wondering about what exists beyond the pages’ edges.


Solar System

Book Cover
Anne Jankéliowitch
Annabelle Buxton, illustrator
Barefoot Books
Hardcover $19.99 (52pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Beginning from the beginning—the Big Bang, to be precise—this gorgeous exploration of our solar system is replete with informative flaps, flip-up factoids, and beautiful collages depicting the colorful night sky and life planetside. It even includes a pull-out map for young readers to tack above their beds in a continuation of their interplanetary dreams.

Learn about what it means to be a resident of the Milky Way—one tiny speck in an imagination-bending array of planets, systems, and galaxies. Little ones will learn that the planets around them began as “a swirling cloud of gas and dust” that collapsed, forming the sun, which pulled bits of rock and refuse to it via gravity; eventually, these remnants became our home.

The book covers each planet in its own spread, showing which of our launched spacecraft are nearby right now and highlighting bits of information like their temperatures, moons, and orbital patterns; it covers the moon landing in turn. At just over fifty pages in length, Solar System is packed with a world of information—several worlds, in fact (even Pluto’s invited to the party).


Taxi Ride with Victor

Book Cover
Sara Trofa
Elsa Klever, illustrator
Prestel Junior
Hardcover $14.95 (40pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

With four arms and a terrible sense of direction, Victor is not the most outwardly efficient interstellar taxi driver—but he is the one you’ll most want to pick you up by the end of this zany, alien-laden, humorously detailed picture book. A series of mishaps leads Victor’s passengers to places they did not expect to be, and as his rocket-propelled taxi zips across the page in an eye-catching flurry of colors, planets, and fun destinations, readers will have their own sense of adventure ignited. His routes haphazard or not, it turns out that Victor will always get interplanetary travelers where they need to be.


Michelle Anne Schingler

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