From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—The author of Godspeed, John Glenn
(Boyds Mills, 2006) and other accounts of space-program highlights describes the disastrous Apollo 13
mission for younger readers. With a combination of brief overview narrative, more detailed sidebar explanations, and full- or nearly full-spread paintings done in a realistic style, Hilliard covers the basic facts in a systematic way, but he writes in a wooden, matter-of-fact tone that robs the episode of much of its terror and suspense. For example, "Jim's wife, Marilyn, stayed in constant contact with Houston and hoped that, against all odds, her husband would return to her and their children." Similarly, the figures in the paintings are usually in static poses, often seen from the back or with faces in shadow. The important task of making children aware of our achievements in space exploration needs all the help it can get, but is better served by more vivid retellings, such as Ian Graham's You Wouldn't Want to Be on Apollo 13!
(Watts, 2003) or Mark Beyer's Crisis in Space: Apollo 13
(Children's Press, 2002).—John Peters, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Apollo 13 spacecraft was moonward bound when an explosion damaged the ship, forcing the astronauts to abandon the mission’s original goals and focus on a new one: returning safely to Earth. Hilliard tells the story through two texts, one that would work better for reading aloud in the classroom and (appearing in sidebars in smaller print) another that fills in more details. The main text is competently written, but the story’s inherent drama is more evident in the detailed accounts and the artwork. A typical double-page spread includes a large-scale acrylic painting with the main text superimposed, accompanied by an illustrated, vertical sidebar. Though some of the large illustrations have the static look of painted or digitally altered photos, they are often dramatic and show up well from a distance. Children intrigued by the space program will enjoy this large-format book from the author/illustrator of Neil, Buzz, and Mike Go to the Moon (2005) and Godspeed, John Glenn (2006). Grades 2-4. --Carolyn Phelan