From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 5–8—Along with being based at least as much on personal interviews as on documentary and other sources, this album-sized history of the Apollo missions is also set apart by its unique illustrations. A former astronaut who walked on the Moon as part of the Apollo 12
crew, Bean has been for many years a full-time fine artist. He incorporates into moonscapes, spacecraft, and suited-up astronauts done over the course of his artistic career not only an unusually personal perspective, but also actual bits of moon dust, used mission patches, and other well-traveled memorabilia. He also provides illuminating, sometimes eloquent commentary in captions and a closing statement. Though the authors present an uncomplicated version of events with almost no discussion of the exclusion of women from the astronaut corps, for instance, and quoting Neil Armstrong's famous line as "one small step for a man" rather than what he actually said, they do tuck in memorable anecdotes (to the question "What's the most beautiful thing you saw in space?" an astronaut replies, "Urine dump at sunset"). They effectively highlight the Apollo program's magnificent achievements, as well as its moments of tension and tragedy. Supplemented with an admixture of photos and labeled diagrams, the large-scale art adds a dazzling visual element to this grand commemoration.—John Peters, New York Public Library
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*Starred Review* As we move away from the twentieth century, the shining moment of the first moon landing seems to grow brighter. Placing that event within the context of the whole Apollo program, this handsome, large-format book spotlights 12 significant missions, from Apollo 1, with its fatal cockpit fire, to Apollo 17, with its sweet success and bittersweet awareness that the program was ending. Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon (1994), has extensively researched the Apollo program and conducted hundreds of related interviews, including 28 with former Apollo astronauts. Beyond a wealth of pertinent anecdotes, this background knowledge brings a subtle understanding of complex decisions and human emotions at pivotal moments as well as a broad perspective as the Apollo missions moved gradually toward their goals. Informative, full-page sidebars focus on topics such as the work of the Mission Control teams and the early fear of “moon germs.” NASA photos provide excellent color illustrations of the Apollo missions. More unexpected and personal are the many stunning paintings and insightful captions by Alan Bean, who walked on the moon during the Apollo 12 mission. Lists of recommended books, films, and Internet sites are appended. A beautiful, insightful, and highly readable presentation of the Apollo missions. Grades 5-8. --Carolyn Phelan