This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing. And there are lots of new books commemorating that event and the moon itself! Below are some of the more noteworthy books about the moon we’ve discovered in our local libraries.
Music for Mister Moon by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Neal Porter Books, 2019.
This gentle picture book chronicles Harriet’s desire to be by herself, playing her cello. But when Mister Moon gets stuck on Harriet’s chimney and she tries to rescue him, a strange friendship forms. In the end, Harriet (who wishes to be called Hank) agrees to play music for Mister Moon. A quiet peek into the imagination of a child, this book might be too subtle and quiet for many children.
An older, “retro reads” title about the moon and the imagination that is not to be missed is Ezra Jack Keats’s Regards to the Man in the Moon.
A Kite for Moon by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple and illustrated by Matt Phelan. Zonderkidz, 2019.
Like Music for Mister Moon, A Kite for Moon looks at the moon through the eyes of a child who imagines the moon is his friend. This time, though, the boy sends a kite to the moon, studies the moon, and grows up to go to the moon! A gentle picture book for the youngest children while the older ones are learning the details of Apollo 11 and its crew. Illustrations are excellent.
The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons. Holiday House, 2019 (updated edition; originally published in 1997).
Gail Gibbons is a master at communicating scientific topics to young children. Her cartoon illustrations look deceptively “cute,” but they are accurate; this updated version even features an updated moon map. Clear prose accompanies the illustrations. Look for her other science books, too! Note: the moon’s age (and earth’s) are presented as 4.5 billion years old (more or less). Picture book.
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca. Atheneum, 2019 (expanded edition).
If you pick only one book from this round-up of books about the moon, choose this one. Moonshot was first published for the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, but it has been expanded for the 50th. Floca’s illustrations alone make this a book worth seeing. Striking perspective, accurate details, and artistic excellence combine to great effect. At the writing of this review, we haven’t seen the expanded version yet, but libraries are sure to have both versions on hand.
Destination: Moon by Seymour Simon. HarperCollins, 2019.
Like Simon’s other nonfiction titles, Destination: Moon is well-organized, informative, and packed with outstanding photography. Plenty of quotations from the early astronauts plus iconic photographs fill the pages. Simon begins with short sections about the moon itself (including one reference to billions of years), but gives the majority of his attention to the space race itself. This is a great resource for mid-upper elementary students who are learning about the space race and what it took to put a man on the moon.
Go for the Moon: A Rocket, a Boy, and the First Moon Landing by Chris Gall. Roaring Book Press, 2019.
An over-sized picture book, Go for the Moon juxtaposes a child’s attempt to build a rocket and launch it with the launch of Apollo 11. Frankly, the story of the real moon rocket launch, from conception to landing, is so well done, that the child’s story could be left out. Gall clearly explains scientific concepts, illustrating concepts beautifully and informatively. Older elementary students will enjoy the nonfiction part of the story, but the child’s narrative alongside may help younger readers engage with the story and grasp the scientific concepts at a more rudimentary level. A good resource for learning more about the details and science behind the moon landing.
The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean by Dean Robbins and illustrated by Sean Rubin. Orchard Books, 2019.
Did you know one of the Apollo 12 astronauts was an artist? Alan Bean came home from his moon visit and painted his memories of the moon. This picture book introduces children to Bean, his moon landing, and his art. Text and pictures are not remarkable, but the story is a terrific addition the canon of astronaut lore. Readers can see some of Bean’s artwork on his website.
The First Men Who Went to the Moon by Rhonda Growler Greene. Sleeping Bear Press, 2019.
“These are the first men who went to the moon. This is the spacecraft, Apollo 11, that lifted off and soared through the heavens and carried the first men who went to the moon.” And so the story continues, poetic and deceptively calm, as the first moon landing is retold. Separate text snippets containing relevant facts accompany most pages, but Scott Brundage’s illustrations steal the show. Beautiful, realistic, full-page depictions of everything from astronauts to the rockets to the moon itself make this a picture book to look at multiple times. Many illustrations are based on iconic photographs. Early elementary and up.
Rocket to the Moon!: Big Ideas That Changed the World by Don Brown. Abrams, 2019.
Don Brown brings his formidable graphic novel talents to bear in a new nonfiction series, the first of which is about the space race and moon landing. Brown’s book includes far more history of the science behind the race to the moon than the other books on this list. It’s a good choice for upper elementary students and up. (See our upcoming review for more details.)
When We Walked on the Moon by David Long and illustrated by Sam Kalda. Wide-Eyed Editions, 2019.
Subtitled “Discover the Dangers, Disasters, and Triumphs of Every Moon Mission,” this book covers every Apollo mission (starting with 11) and more, from the construction of Saturn V to the astronauts’ legacy. Most moon landing books focus on Apollo 11’s historic first visit, but this book looks at each consecutive Apollo mission as well. Plenty of text coupled with high impact, colorful illustrations make this a good fit for middle-upper elementary students who want to learn more about the space program during its “moon phase.” This book would also work well in middle school classrooms. Note: reference to millions and billions of years in reference to moon rocks and samples.
The Race to Space by Clive Gifford and illustrated by Paul Daviz. words and pictures, 2019.
Another hefty offering from Quarto Publications, The Race to Space looks at the race between the U.S. and the USSR during the height of the space race. Retro style illustrations combine with headlines for each chapter in a large picture-book-size format, makeing this book read like a collection of newspaper entries from the different stages of the “race.” A great addition to a lineup of moon landing books that illustrates both the competitive aspect as well as the effects of the two countries’ attempts, culminating in the the International Space Station. Middle to upper elementary (middle school students would enjoy it as well).
List updated on July 10, 2019.
Previously on Redeemed Reader…
Don’t miss our giant Space Book List that we put together for the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Most of the books on that list are about space in general, not the moon, but it’s a great list and includes titles for middle school and up as well as a few picture books. Don’t miss Hidden Figures, available in picture book format and in a Young Readers Edition. There’s more to the story of the moon landing than rocket science alone.
And, finally, don’t miss the opportunity to watch President Kennedy’s famous speech about going to the moon on YouTube!