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T-Minus: The Race to the Moon Paperback – May 19, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin (May 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416949607
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416949602
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up–Beginning 12 years before the lunar landing, this book chronicles the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union through a catalog of both countries' multiple attempts on the road to manned spaceflight. Organized as a countdown, making the outcome seem inevitable, the frequent, prominent sidebars list a type of rocket, the duration of its flight, and whether the mission was a success or a failure. There are more than 30 attempts chronicled, and the shift between Soviet and U.S. successes creates an interesting balance in the narrative. Ottaviani credits the early Russian successes to chief designer Korolev, and his influence and personal vision fill the first half of the book. The American portion of the narrative lacks a parallel central architect, with the text focusing less on process and more on the majesty, beauty, and peril of simply being in space. The story is necessarily condensed–the author notes that approximately 400,000 people worked on the U.S. projects overall–but plentiful information is provided in the numerous panels and explanatory captions per page. The copious detail will appeal to some, and certainly helps to underscore the meticulous research that went into this undertaking. Ottaviani is particular with facts and eager to inspire readers with regard to the scientific process.–Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH END --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author


Jim Ottaviani
, a former engineer who is now a librarian at the University of Michigan, has garnered numerous nominations and awards (including Eisner and ALA/YALSA nods) for his graphic novels about science. He speaks regularly on comics in venues ranging from local schools to Stockholm’s Nobel Museum. Jim lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon
(no relation) have worked together since 2004, illustrating such books as Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards and The Stuff of Life. Zander earned two Eisner awards for his work on the Top Ten series. Both Cannons reside in Minneapolis.

More About the Author

Jim Ottaviani has worked in news agencies and golf courses in the Chicago area, nuclear reactors in the U.S. and Japan, and libraries in Michigan. He still works as a librarian by day, but stays up late writing comics about scientists. When he's not doing these things, he's spraining his ankles and flattening his feet by running on trails. Or he's reading. He reads a lot. Elsewhere on the web you can find him at www.gt-labs.com .

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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A great story, well told and beautifully illustrated.
Rob Hess
I learned much more about the Soviet side of the space race from this book than from anything else I've read or seen.
M. Pollard
For those who enjoy the Graphic Novel style, I recommend this book.
John H Ousterhout

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark McGinty on June 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
As we "deet deet deet" into the first panel like a capsule descending from outer space, we enter the remarkable world of a space race told comic book style. I've always been a fan of a storyteller who lights a fuse right away. Give us a ticking bomb, a deadline, a finite amount of time in which our hero must succeed or face annihilation: Run Lola Run and Back to the Future did it perfectly and we all remember the catastrophic Y2K computer bug that nearly wiped out the human race and unraveled the fabric of the space-time continuum. Thankfully Dick Clark was there to bring us home in the nick of time.

In the case of T-Minus, the countdown is the premise of the book and while the reader knows that the race will be won when the clock expires, the book's characters are racing against a different deadline: JFK's challenge to put a man on the moon and return him to earth by the end of the decade.

So brings T-Minus: The Race to the Moon, a compelling behind-the-scenes story of the space race filled with software glitches, landing bags that deploy prematurely, loose heat shields and a pair of cosmonauts forced to hide in their downed capsule while Siberian wolves threaten them outside. Told with parallel stories of the United States vs. the Soviet Union, with characters that come and go as the years pass, the artwork pulls you into the world of scientists and space travelers and makes you feel what they actually felt. The character introductions are subtle. Every few pages I say to myself "Oh, there's John Glenn..." or "Hey, that's Yuri Gagarin." They are woven in seamlessly and their allegiance is discernable by a clever variance in speech bubble font (the Russkies speak their words with a backwards N).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jean E. Pouliot on August 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
Trying to tell the story of the US-Soviet space race is biting off quiet a large slice of history. Ottaviani and crew are only partly successful in this graphic novel approach to the tale.

There's a lot of good about this book. It tries to tell the story of the space race with as much of an eye to the Russian side as to the American. I had never heard of The Great Designer, Sergei Korolev, the sickly Soviet master engineer who was the Werner von Braun of the Soviet space program. The contrast between the stunning early Russian space "firsts" contrasted with string of the US rocket disasters was as eye-opening as the later American series of successes and Russians debacles.

That said, the book's missteps were irritating. Many launches are described with a single illustration on the sides of a page. Many critical missions of the Gemini program, which tested the ability of astronauts to rendezvous and dock in space, were "covered" in a few confusing throwaway side panels. And the attention paid to certain missions or events was out of balance to their importance. The routine orbit of Apollo 8 around the moon went on for page after page. Also, the arguments about which corporations should build the US space craft were hard to follow and borderline irrelevant. And Ottaviani more than occasionally got lost in depicting unintelligible NASA space-talk.

In the end, though, I came away a great deal of knowledge from this imperfect depiction of the space program, and the two-party race to the moon. Not a glowing endorsement, but a thumbs up, weakly, nonetheless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Pollard on June 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this for my son (who loved it!) and really enjoyed it myself. Tons of historical detail and personal stories. I learned much more about the Soviet side of the space race from this book than from anything else I've read or seen.

Every boy with an interest in space, rocketry, science or engineering should have a copy and so should every school library.
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What did it take to get a man on the moon? This book is the fascinating tale of the US/Soviet space race. The writing is excellent, and the art is perfectly suited for the subject - the narrative is literally framed with the launches, failed and successful, on the path to this goal.

This is mostly an ensemble cast, but if there's a single star it's the mysterious genius in charge of the Soviet space program - The Designer. I didn't really know much about him (we still don't, in absolute terms, but I sure know a lot more now). And in fact the USSR most likely would have beaten the US to the Moon if not... well I won't spoil the why.

While the art may be appropriately clinical, the story is as much human as technical, and the book is a slowly building crescendo to a double page spread that to my surprise actually choked me up a bit. I had not to that point realized how pulled into the book I was.

Some of Ottaviani's other books are a bit too introspective for me to recommend to just anyone, but this and Bone Sharps I would recommend to anyone of any age.
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If you grew up during the space age this book will instantly take you back to those days. Both the Americans and the Soviets had "the right Stuff" but the Soviets held the lead and, as this book demonstrates, the USSR's hammer and sickle may very well have been the first to be planted on the moon if not for the sudden death of Russian rocket genius Korolev.

The illustrations are great. When the Russians speak, the occasional letter appears backwards. It seems well researched and is well plotted giving proper praise of each triumph whether it be East or West. A great read for those who recall the heady days of NASA or those too young to have experienced the race to the moon. My only complaint is that it is too short.
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