From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—A girl remembers the summer of 1969 and the first moon landing in this lushly illustrated, 40th-anniversary tribute. From her small town of Star, Mae and her family pray for the astronauts, she and her cousins build a homemade "rocket ship," and they all watch the historic moment on television. Pinkney's remarkable graphite, ink, and watercolor paintings evoke both the vastness of space and the intimacy of 1960s family life. Writing in the voice of a nine-year-old African-American girl, Aston is lyrical and sometimes evocative, though some of her narrative choices are overworked. The visual format of the free verses, with every line beginning with a capital letter, is distracting and interferes with the text's natural rhythms. The choice of the name Mae for the character who aspires to be an astronaut may be homage paid to Mae Jemison, and even the name of the fictional town seems to exist just for its metaphorical value. That said, this book offers children a close-up view of an experience that seems quaint today, but that was life-changing in 1969.—Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NC
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The narrator of this picture book recalls the first walk on the moon, which she witnessed as a child on her grandparents’ farm. She and her cousins build their own spaceship from scrap wood and metal, but they run inside for the broadcast of Apollo 11’s lunar landing. Later, the family gathers around the television again to watch astronauts step onto the moon. As she tells her grandfather, “If they could go to the moon, / Maybe one day I could too!” Near the story’s end, Grandpa calls the girl “Mae,” a name recalling African American astronaut Mae Jemison. Spaced vertically in phrases like free verse alongside the large illustrations, the text combines dignity and immediacy in a clean, spare telling of events. Pinkney’s evocative artwork, created using graphite, ink, and watercolor, depicts a black family captivated, and perhaps subtly changed, by the moon landing in 1969. A quiet, satisfying tribute to this milestone in human history and its power to inspire others. Preschool-Grade 3. --Carolyn Phelan